Monday, March 24, 2014

Raw Oysters

Gabe.  The Walrus.
"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of shoes, 

and ships, 

and sealing wax,

Of cabbages and kings --

And why the sea is boiling hot,

And whether pigs have wings."

Somewhere near Laguna Beach, CA, March 22, 2014

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good, indeed --
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

Anna  (The first brave soul... On a dare.)

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?"

Cathy (Had the funniest faces...)

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,

"To play them such a trick,

After we've brought them out so far,

And made them trot so quick!"

The Carpenter said nothing but

"The butter's spread too thick!"

Michelle (Popped it down the fastest. Barely had time to take pictures!)

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:

"I deeply sympathize."

With sobs and tears he sorted out

Those of the largest size,

Holding his pocket-handkerchief

Before his streaming eyes.

Gavin's Daddy, Paul (had the most grossed out audience)


"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,

"You've had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?'

But answer came there none--

And this was scarcely odd, because

They'd eaten every one.

Raw Oysters?!

Answering the questions we're all asking...

* It's March.  Isn't there an old saying that oysters shouldn't be eaten during months that contain an R?
Actually, it's just the opposite.  Back in the day, people were advised never to eat oysters during months of the year that didn't contain the letter R.  This was chiefly because the lack of proper refrigeration methods didn't keep oysters well in the warmer weather months -- May through August.

But that's not the only reason. The meat of the oyster tends to become thicker when the water temperatures cool down in the fall of the year, a preference for oyster lovers simply because "more is better."  And the texture changes somewhat, as well. But, really, oysters can be (and are) enjoyed twelve months of the year.
* Ew.  Do people really eat those nasty things? On purpose? When they're not being dared?
Yes!  Nearly two billion pounds of oysters are eaten every year, and Americans eat tons.  Literally! From 1990 to 1995, for example, Americans ate about fifty million pounds of these popular mollusks.  (We ate exactly four on Saturday.)
* Aren't raw oysters bad for you? 
Oysters contain a whole raft of Vitamins, including C, D, B1, B1, B2 and B3. In terms of valuable minerals, if you eat just four medium-size oysters every day, you'll get the recommended daily allowances of calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.
* No, That's Not What I Meant.  Seriously -- isn't it a bad idea to eat raw oysters, straight out of the ocean?  Can't you get salmonella or something?
Yes and no. Possibly so.  Of course you have to know you take a bit of a chance.  While oysters are nutrient-rich, you do take a risk eating them raw -- as is true for pretty much any raw food, especially something harvested wild from the ocean. In point of fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that raw oysters may be contaminated with a nasty called Vibrio vulnificus, also known as V. vulnificus, which is a pathogen that can cause life-threatening sickness. To avoid the risk, it's best to cook your oysters first to benefit from the nutrients without the possibility of illness.
 Take note: people who have low immunity systems, cancer or chronic liver disease especially shouldn't eat raw oysters.

But, what can we say?  I guess we like to live on the wild side. And nobody in this gang can pass up a dare.  No one got sick after eating raw oysters straight out of the Pacific Ocean on Saturday.  But, that said...  we wouldn't make a habit of eating them this way.

* What about radiation poisoning from the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan? Could that have affected these oysters?

Good question.  Chances are good that the kids won't start glowing any time soon. Not that we believe everything the FDA says -- not by a long shot!  But the powers-that-be do claim that they've been testing all Pacific food imports -- particularly those within proximate distance of Japan --  and have not found reason for concern.  (Found here...)  Yeah.  Hmmm....  We'll let you know if anyone starts acting funny.

* But, wait.  If you're eating an oyster raw....  is it

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  Whether you dig them up, buy them at a local seafood store or order them through the mail, there's one sure way to tell if an oyster is alive. If its shell is open, you tap on it with your fingers, and it snap shut, then it's alive.  
We're not sure if ours were alive or not, as we had to force them to open their "jaws" to get the oysters out of the shells.  But, hmmm...  Maybe they were "clamping" them shut.
* The "meat" of an oyster looks more like a slimy lump of goo than anything.  Are you sure these things are live sea critters?

Yes, indeed!  Though it's a little hard to tell.  Oysters contain both gills and mantle in order for them to breathe. As the water passes through them, the oxygen is removed and the carbon monoxide is discarded. Oysters also have stomachs, intestines, and they have hearts that pump a clear blood, along with the oxygen, through their bodies. And, their kidneys clean impurities from their blood.  
* Are all oysters the same?  The colors of the "meats" the kids ate differed, and they each described the taste somewhat differently.
This is because oysters literally are what they eat.  They feed on plankton, animal waste, decayed plants- most any small particles they suck in from their locale. The color of an oysters' meat depends on what they eat. Usually, the meat is light beige, light gray or off white.  The taste varies, as well.
Oyster connoisseurs like to try to figure out what regions the oysters they are eating came from, just by their taste.  We're not oyster connoisseurs, though.  Our oyster eaters think theirs had chiefly been eating sea water and sand.
* If we kept hunting along the shoreline, collecting oysters, what are the odds that we'd find a pearl in one of them? 
Unfortunately, the odds are astronomically against us.  Doggonit.  According to, "only one out of 10,000 animals will produce a pearl in the wild." Most of the pearls that are created by oysters are purposely formed. Pieces of shells or beads are inserted inside an oyster -and the natural process just goes from there. The oyster covers the foreign substance with layers of calcium and protein. In time, a pearl is produced.  The odds of this happening in the wild are very rare.
*  Does anyone here at the Crazy House actually like raw oysters?  
Just me.  (Maybe Paul.)  But, I didn't have any from the Oceanside buffet on Saturday.  Thank-ya, no.  A Mom has a certain Mom-dignity that she must maintain.  I know better than to get involved in a Davis-kid dare-athon.

Most of the information in this post, gleaned from here and here.

Entire text of The Walrus and the Carpenter, by Lewis Carroll here.

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