Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I never used to like oysters on the half shell -- I think they are definitely a required taste that comes as we age and our palates mature (wow, could I sound more pretentious?). My dad attends the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival every year and has for what must be decades now. It is a swell time, full of delicious Cajun and Creole food and, of course, really fantastic music. When I was younger he'd always come home talking about what a blast he'd had. During my pre-teens and early teenage years I used to beg him to take me with him, always to be denied. Finally, I was promised that I could go when I was 16 -- or earlier, if and only if I ate a raw oyster first. I guess this was somehow dad's test that I was "ready" for New Orleans and all it had to offer. Dad loves oysters and I used to be so grossed out by them when he'd order some. So one evening during my fifteenth year, we're out to eat, just the two of us, and he orders oysters. I decide that this is my moment -- I just need to get one down and this could be the year I get to go to Fest! I bring the shell to my lips, tip the oyster into my mouth, give it a chomp as instructed by dad, and proceed to gag and spit it out. I couldn't do it, and I really, really tried. When I finally did get to go to New Orleans the next year, I tried frog's legs, alligator sausage, and had duck for the first time -- but no oysters.