I’d not eaten a raw oyster in at least 30 years. My dad used to swear that I used to suck ‘em down faster than he could shuck ‘em out. But I don’t remember that. Eating oysters was always a social event with several people on lawn chairs, sitting around a red Igloo ice chest with a thick rubber glove on one hand and an oyster knife in the other, Tabasco sauce and saltine crackers. Folks would sit, shuck and talk about everything from politics, to past memories, to current college football teams’ rankings until the last oyster was shucked from it’s shell, topped on a cracker and inhaled. My memories include eating lots of Tabasco-covered saltine crackers, my attempt to integrate with the local community.
I’ve always known the best oysters to come from the Apalachicola Bay area. Growing up, I remember getting money for Christmas gifts by going out, picking up oysters and selling them. Back in 1985 I could get between twenty and thirty dollars a five-gallon bucket (unshelled). I cannot imagine what they go for now.
I was in Apalachicola yesterday; I went there with two friends for lunch. Apalach is another small, Florida town that was once a thriving boom town. In fact one of its inhabitants, John Gorrie, was awarded in 1850 the first US patent for mechanical refrigeration, so if you have a refrigerator in your home, you have a distant connection to this lovely, little northwest Florida town. It’s seen better days; it’s seen far worse days. Now it’s a really quaint place to visit, with numerous antique shops, cute little hotels and bed and breakfasts, a liquor store called The Honey Hole that sells underwear with The Honey Hole screen printed across the rear, funky little coffee shops (the folks at Cafe Con Leche were super-kind, good ol' southern hospitality--even though I don't think either of them are originally from the South; they've learned well!) and a local art scene that is springing up. I always appreciate a local art scene, and I’m pretty opinionated about the art and it’s appeal to me. (I once told an artist at his exhibition that art always speaks to people, but sometimes we are not interested in or like what it’s trying to say. Yeah, I’m not always the nicest person. Honest, yes. Nice, no.) Sadly, a lot of the art I saw yesterday was speaking a language I did not understand.
Highly recommended in Apalachicola: chocolate. Even now, while typing, I'm think about how strange that sounds, but Apalachicola Chocloate Company makes damn good chocolate. I was more than satisfied with the dark chocolate covered pecans I had after lunch yesterday.
Raw oysters (aphrodisiac) for lunch. Fabulous dark chocolate (aphrodisiac) for dessert. Just another example how I complicate my own life.