Sunday, January 04, 2009

The oyster stew pearls - 2009

Since late December, there has been a rumbling around here about oyster stew. Somebody will bring up a dish, and the talk continues until someone breaks down and makes it. Then, either we'll have it a few times in the course of the next couple of months or that will be enough.
Such was the case of the oyster stew.

I've looked and looked, but cannot find the reason that oyster stew is traditionally eaten over the holidays. The pork and sauerkraut that is so important around here (so important, in fact, that our mom would freeze it for anyone not able to be home on the first of the year and you don't want to know the lengths that woman would go to on fastnacht day!) because of several things. For one, the sauerkraut cleans out your system so you are a fresh slate for the new year. Cabbage/kraut represents bounty and money, and the pig roots forward, so we eat pork.

But I couldn't find a thing about the oyster. Is it because it is in season now? Maybe. Is it because it hides away in the shell - much like humans in the winter? Could it have anything to do with the treasure that are sometimes found inside? There's probably something else, but it doesn't appear that anyone knows the answer, and the tradition looks to have come across the sea with our ancestors hundreds of years ago.

Yesterday was the day. Oyster stew is just the simplest thing in the world to make. I bought a couple dozen (they were very small, I thought) oysters in lots of juice, some whole milk, and some oyster crackers. Once home, I tossed a big chunk of butter (1/2 stick) into a pan and when it was melted, in went the oysters and juice. When the oysters started to curl, I added about a quart of milk.

That's it. When it is heated through, pile on the crackers and dig in.

To my surprise, Molly liked it. I was mortified to realize it was her first taste of the stuff. We probably ate oyster stew before we could walk.

As we sat and ate our stew, I found a bit of grit in my mouth. DARN! So, as delicately as possible, I extricated the grit. It took a moment, but out came 3 little pearls. Tiny, yes, but pearls nonetheless.
So what to make of this?!?
I'll tell you what I have decided! This means that 09 will be a wonderful year in triplicate :-).
That could be wrong. It could be meaningless. But when you pull three pearls from your mouth, it just seems like it should mean something.


Maryanne said...

Okay, I vaguely remember oyster stew being part of Christmas Eve up at Aunt Mary's... or was it New Years' Eve? Maybe it was our Methodist nod to the Feast of 7 Fishes, though I doubt that.

Remember the "Oysters R in Season" sign on the seafood place?

Chestnuts brought in the fall and oysters in steaming stew were a special winter treat.

The pearls... referring to the pearls of wisdom that come from your lips? Or is it the "pearls before swine" thing??

Then there's the story of Poppy trying to swallow raw oysters in his tight celluloid collar...

Susan said...

Isn't there a saying "out of the mouths of babes come pearls'? hehheh

Michele said...

I say KEEP EATING! Before long you will have a necklace for Molly to wear on her wedding day.

In our family German bread or stollen is important for Christmas Day breakfast. And smoked herring (usually pickled) is without a doubt on every table during the holidays. My kids die when they watch me eat it. Huh...what do they know!

Tina Sams said...

It does seem fairly fortuitous, don't you think?


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