Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

oysters

Posted in oysters, port moguer by bowsprite on 2010/08/08

dont’ they look like whales when longer-valve up?

To open an oyster, first, have a good oyster knife:

Use an oyster knife. Don’t use a kitchen knife; the valves of the oyster may give way and the knife could slip. Visiting friends once tried to use my paring knife with the above result. They were guilty of the following, simultaneously:

• using the wrong tool for the job at hand,
• using said tool for the wrong job. Towmasters would not approve.

Wiggle the knife into the hinge, don’t push into the oyster, but wiggle, vibrate, coax in. When the knife is in far enough (to not merely chip  the top valve but to move the whole shell), twist it 90°, like turning a key. Slide sharp edge to sever the adductor. More details here.

Question: do you dump out the elixir, or do you carefully preserve the inner liquid? The fishmonger (le poissonier) who taught me how to shuck dumped it out. Others were horrified by this, and said it was important to keep.

As it was a warm, “r”-less month, some of the oysters on the rocks of Port Moguer had a creamy milky juice, la laiteuse. It is probably an acquired taste.

“The first time I was in America, I went to New York. It was my first day, I was in Rockefeller Center at a restaurant, and I saw a man open an oyster by holding it up over a candle.” He shuddered as only how a frenchman can when faced with american ingenuity.

oysters in NYHarbor, next…

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19 Responses

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  1. tugster said, on 2010/08/10 at 19:52

    only bowsprite would morph an oyster shell into a whale or transform a barnacle pimple into an eye, thank the seagoddesses. as to elixir … anything called by that name deserves to be saved and consumed. but maybe les francais call it something like “offrande” in which case it must absolutely be given back to the sea. attitude is all in the name sometimes.

  2. tugster said, on 2010/08/10 at 20:35

    french names/words put a better spin on sooooo many things. i can see it now . . . i go to a shrink to say i’m depressed and instead of giving pills, the shrink says, “This is a serious case … calls for strong medicine. here, take this chit to Berlitz and take three months of french lessons. c’est ca!!

  3. Baydog said, on 2010/08/10 at 23:02

    Holy Mackerel! Where do I begin? Yes, when we look at them with the aid of your amazing talent, they most certainly do look like whales. They undoubtedly taste much better, I presume. The oyster knife with the turned-up pointed tip is the most effective, I think. And always cover the oyster and your “holding” hand with a kitchen towel; You could very easily slip and gouge your hand and then the fun is immediately over. When opening oysters for eating raw, I usually pour off the initial “liquor”, and place the oyster on ice. As it settles and chills, some more liquor seeps out and surrounds the oyster meat. If I’m opening them for poaching, all the liquor is saved and used for the poaching liquid, then reduced for a nice concentrated flavor. Thanks for making me hungry!

    And a candle? :|

  4. O Docker said, on 2010/08/11 at 00:41

    Why do I hear Jacques Cousteau saying something like, “the grace that is the sea is reflected in all of her creatures, and so the curves of the tiny shrimp or oyster are found in her giants as well.”

    I think Cousteau could have opened an oyster just by mumuring to it for a while.

    It was the French who gave us the word ‘attitude’, non?

  5. [...] shows us how to properly shuck oysters with beautiful sketched out [...]

  6. Cold is the Sea said, on 2010/08/11 at 11:23

    Great renderings! Suddenly I’m very hungry…

  7. Buck said, on 2010/08/12 at 10:56

    You even got the colours just so! I love how you see the world!

  8. Barista Uno said, on 2010/08/12 at 22:23

    I continue to be in love with your artistic style. You drew the oysters in a way oyster aficionados will approve of.

  9. bowsprite said, on 2010/08/12 at 22:33

    Well, we weren’t there to see. So maybe he didn’t do it with a candle. Maybe it was a Bic lighter.

    Cousteau! no one today has the effect on generations the way he did once. I love his books.

    Merci, thank you Friends!

  10. Tim said, on 2010/08/14 at 05:13

    The sketches are fantastic as is the text, never tried an oyster personally but the Irish like to eat them served up with a Guinness! Each year there is a festival in Galway to celebrate the Oyster too…maybe I should try one!

  11. Mage Bailey said, on 2010/08/14 at 21:09

    I hate to be conservative and say, “I’m charmed, ” but I am. Just a delightful entry.

  12. peacay said, on 2010/08/17 at 17:54

    –wiggle, vibrate, coax–

    As oysters, so dating.

  13. Jed said, on 2010/08/18 at 16:12

    love, Love, LOVE the new decision-making benchmark:

    ‘Would TOWMASTERS approve?’

  14. Sab said, on 2010/08/19 at 04:28

    cute graphics! :P

    oyster knife for opening oysters. :D

    yummy.. yummy!

  15. Michael said, on 2010/08/24 at 15:16

    Got another bivalve to pull from the ice? Tales from the shell?

    There was a restaurant awhile back called The Quiet Clam. A friend of mine and I speculated on other clams…boisterous clams, rambuctious clams. Imagine a clam clan in which one clam has taken to raising such a ruckus that the clam elders get together, pull the punk aside and say “you’re WAY out of line!”

    Scallops are nice to draw, aren’t they? Also, what is the critter that ends up giving us Sand Dollars? It’s easy to find sand dollar shells, but I’ve never seen one live. I don’t even know what they are (manatee eardrums?)

  16. O Docker said, on 2010/08/27 at 18:15

    How crop circles are really made:

    • bowsprite said, on 2010/09/02 at 19:42

      so this is what I look like in the pool! (my right arm stroke is stronger than the left.)

  17. [...] rise and sink and rise or open and shut and open and  . . . [...]


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