[Sca-cooks] Ersterz...

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Fri Feb 8 20:16:57 PST 2008

Hullo, the list, and a Happy New Year to all!

Last night, as often happens the night after the official arrival of  
the Lunar New Year, various people arrived at our home to help us  

My friend Master A (well, another one, this being Ateno of Annun  
Ridge, Baron of An Dubhaigeainn and a Laurel for brewing) arrived  
somewhat late in the proceedings with a large, insulated bag in tow.

We had a great deal of food, not enough time to really pay proper  
attention to everyone to the extent they ought to have been paid  
attention to, and apart from a rather brief inspection of the contents  
of the bag, we really didn't get a chance to do much with them.

Ateno and Baroness Lassar spent the night at our place, and we've just  
finished doing justice to the bag's contents (very cold, very much  
alive, and very much ocean-flavored in this month with not one but two  
"r's" in it). It contained about six dozen Bluepoint oysters from Long  
Island Sound, and about the same number of Littleneck clams, and we've  
just been having an impromptu oyster shucking lesson at the dining  
table, using an American oyster knife (basically a miniature pry bar  
on a wooden handle), a French oyster knife, a wicked, short, two- 
edged, pointed chisel about two inches long with a guard like a foil,  
a clam knife (essentially useless), and a small folding Opinel utility  
knife with beechwood handle.

Master Ateno was familiar only with the American oyster knife, and I  
mostly with the French oyster knife, but had heard the Opinel was very  
fast and very effective _if_ you could stay alive in the process.

By the time we were done, we had each remembered techniques we had  
stored in our heads but which our hands sort of had to remember after  
a mistake or two and several years without doing that job on any large  

But it was a great deal of fun trying to get the oysters opened before  
various Evil Spawns, diminutive Asian ladies and Celtic Amazon types  
could make off with them.

I also was reminded that mignonette sauce made from minced shallots,  
sherry vinegar, and coarse black pepper steeped together for an hour  
or two before using is really, really good, especially on really  
fresh, briny oysters.

Eventually our hands got tired, and we reheated leftovers from last  
night's dinner, augmented with the clams, stir-fried until the shells  
opened with oyster sauce gravy with ginger, garlic, and scallions.

But it was nice to remember what it was like to be able to pull real  
food out of our oceans now and again.


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