Despite living much of my life on the coast of Florida, I didn’t eat many oysters growing up. We were clam people. But then, years later, I read A Moveable Feast. And MFK Fisher. And so many gourmands who insisted on the unfiltered, briny beauty of the oyster.
I can’t remember when I had my first oyster–maybe it was on a Gulf Coast pier somewhere after all–but I remember my favorite experience. One weekend, Dan and I decided to retreat from a blustery Ohio winter to the Carolina beaches. The water was still too cold to swim in, but we kept the doors to our balcony flung wide open, so we could nap in the salty ocean breeze. At night, we went to a tucked-away shack where we were served hushpuppies, seafood stew, and a basket of cornmeal-fried oysters. They were crispy and peppery on the outside, giving way to a melting kind of richness on the inside. Almost indecent in their richness. It wasn’t really the oysters themselves. They were just a part of this moment, a symbol of a languid lifestyle far from home.
This weekend, in the midst of another blustery Ohio winter, I fried some oysters. They sagged from their own weight and filled us with a taste of a memory.
serves 2 for a modest lunch
Half dozen shucked, largish oysters
Knob of butter
Tbs. olive oil
Heat butter and olive oil in a pan until foamy. Season flour with salt and pepper. Dredge oysters in flour mixture and drop into hot pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side.
Serve on crusty bread with a creamy spread.