I’d love to tell you the first time I bit into an oyster my life changed.
The truth is my first taste of the shellfish as a teenager at an Ocean City restaurant on vacation with my parents didn’t leave an impression.
Now my second experience is a memory worth sharing. When my wife, Cathy, and I first moved to our home in Hayes going on 30 years ago, we were immediately befriended by a Guineaman by the name of Harry Truman Smith. He was such an affable fellow that he took me out on his boat for a tour before we even bought the place.
Sometimes we went crabbing early in the morning. One day, he started talking oysters with me.
“Best tasting oysters in Chesapeake Bay come from right here,” Harry said in that Cockney dialect that I struggled to decipher at times.
“OK,” I shrugged.
Next thing I know he was collecting a handful of shells and whipping out a pocketknife in the absence of a shucking one. I watched him shuck this oyster with the same hand he had just used to supply bait fish for the crabs pots.
“Try this!” he said, downright gleeful.
Now I’m no germaphobe, but I wasn’t all that excited about obliging. Only I did. Because what else was I going to do? Ask for some cocktail sauce and a lemon?
The texture made an impression, but with one bite and a swallow, I also remember thinking you know what? That’s pretty good!
I’m not going to tell you we started Big Island Aquaculture right away, but the seed was planted that morning. Cathy even made a terrific oyster stuffing for our Thanksgiving dinner that year.
Pretty soon eating oysters became a way of life in the Vogt household. Lots of our customers picture us devouring them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and while that’s not the case, oysters are a family favorite. Every time we host a gathering, the requests pour in. More Big Island Aquaculture oysters, please.
These days, I love oysters raw, fried, in a stew or with a sauce. If you’ve never tried them before and you’re set on eating them raw, start with some Saltine crackers. Place a shucked oyster on top and add either some cocktail sauce or hot sauce. Take a bite!
If you prefer starting with the cooked method, make sure your oven is nice and hot at 450. Put the shucked oysters on a cookie sheet and bake them from 6 to 8 minutes. If you’ve got a French baguette or something similar, put the heated oysters on top along with some melted butter and herbs of your choosing.
Bon Appetit! And welcome to the world of oysters!
Want to share your first experience tasting an oyster with us? We’d love to hear from you!