There’s history behind my current love for raw oysters. I grew up in the Midwest, so shellfish were never a part of my family’s diet; hence, my first experience eating a clam ended in gagging. I was on a mission trip with my church’s youth group in Maine. We huddled around a campfire in awe of the sea creatures we were about to cook. Jimmy was the brave one. He held the lobster in his bare hand. I don’t remember much about the clam I ate. It was more like a dare, and I wanted to try one. From that point on I’ve never been a fan of snappy, chewy clams.
My next experience was prom night. Kevin took me to a fancy restaurant and ordered shrimp cocktail for our appetizer. I felt so sophisticated eating these plump morsels. This was an expensive dish that my parents never had. It was an extravagance, and Mom and Dad were too frugal and not foodies.
I, however, became a foodie when I met my spouse. Dining out was entertainment and meals were appreciated, lasting long over an hour. I discovered baked oysters during these adventures. There’s nothing better than Tony Mandola’s 2 by 2 by 2, which was a plate full of six topped oysters. There were two Rockefeller, two bienville, and two with pico de gallo and crab. Yum!
Baked oysters were my appetizer of choice while my husband would eat raw oysters. Raw oysters were creepy though, and I stayed away. But my husband knew better. He knew I was missing out on something, so overtime he would give me one of his raw oysters to try. Then it became two. Then three. Then a half-dozen. I began to order and consume six raw oysters by myself! This practice continued and now I can eat a whole dozen, which makes for a tasty, lo-cal lunch. The secret? My husband knows just the right amount of horseradish and cocktail sauce. A little lemon first, the sauce with the stirred-in horseradish, and then a sprinkle of Tabasco. Yum! No gagging now.