Monday, April 24, 2006

Eating the Sea

More on Buford's Oysters, Notes of A Gastronome: On the Bay, from the April 10, 2006 issue. I liked this line, "An oyster is not active in this wild way." (38)

I like it on its own, but I like it in context too, "The commonplace (among tissue-eaters [ie, fish]) is that 'wild' is better than farmed because a wild animal is more exercised, more oxygenated, more organically its natural self than anything grown in confinement. An oyster is not active in this wild way."

This sort of leads the reader to compare oysters with veal and goose liver pate. Circumstances in which, I think, calves and geese are forced to live the lives of oysters . . . force-fed oysters, at that.

For those of you really interested in reading about oysters (and you are my friends) my favorite essay on oysters is MFK Fisher's "The First Oyster" which includes all kinds of fraught race, class, labor, leisure, sex and gender issues and includes the phrase "sexless abandon" . . . and is in the collection The Gastronomical Me.

Fisher and Mary McCarthy (or is it Dottie, or is it her mother) can debate, in lucid, limpid, mid-century prose, whether or not, "it was a great mistake to let girls dance together as they did in so many of the boarding schools of the second rank." (From The Group)

The essays in Fisher's Consider the Oyster collection are good too, especially the first, "Love and Death among the Molluscs" which attempts a curiously unhuman description of some of the same info on the life cycle of the mollusc as is included in Buford's relentlessly biographical essay. I wish it wasn't so relentelessly biographical.

Images are from NYT (Fisher, young) and Vassar Special Collections (McCarthy, of a certain age).

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Blogger Wanda Ball said...

Oh, I like that line. I also like the bit about the liquor in the oyster shell: It's "not just seawater. It's also part oyster...It's like the blood that bathes an oyster's tissues." Mmm.

12:11 AM  
Blogger zp said...

oysters au jus, then? and now the NYT has an oyster's article today. what is this, write your oysters articles quick, before the months that have no R begin?

12:10 PM  
Blogger Wanda Ball said...

I don't know, but it's making me miss north Florida something bad. Roasted oyster on a saltine with a lick of Crystal (hot sauce, that is)? Can't beat it with a stick.

2:31 PM  

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