i feel like i have always eaten oysters but i'm sure that's not true. my earliest memories of eating them goes back to age 10 or 12. like many men, my dad loved to bbq. his signature dish was bbq chicken cooked over a charcoal grill. but i guess from time to time he liked to mix it up. so once or twice a summer he would take a drive out to tomales bay and stop into johnson's oyster farm and buy a bag of 100 oysters for something like $40. these were big meaty oysters that lacked the nuanced flavors that many east coast varieties have. and as you might be guessing from my lead in, we bbq'd them. threw them on the grill unshucked and let the heat pop them open, then pull off the top shell and smothered them in butter and bbq sauce. i remember one time my friend tam and i ate like twenty a piece.
at this point in my life i didn't know that people ate oysters raw and even after i found out that people did, i sort of thought that californians ate their oysters bbq'd and east coasters ate them raw. and i may have been a little right. for some of you uber foodies out there, when i mention tomales bay and oysters, you think hog island oysters. when i was a kid they were just a tiny fledgling company and they had yet to change the way people thought about california oysters. so we ate these mediocre oysters bbq'd because frankly they tasted better that way.
nowadays i wouldn't dream of bbq'ing an oyster. i'm a purist and will hardly put more than a squeeze of lemon on my oyster. one of the highlights of my wedding day was our raw bar. five or six years ago when we attended otis and marya's wedding in wellfleet, massachusetts (otis's home town) and i gorged myself at their raw bar, i swore that i would do anything it took to have a raw bar at my own wedding. well when your husband grew up on cape cod and one of his best friends is a salty lobsterman out of provicetown, all you have to do is ask. as our wedding gift, damian brought us bushels and bushels of wellfleets. seth's friends all took turns rolling up their sleeves and shucking oysters and clams so we didn't have to pay the catering company to do it. the only bummer was i had to do a lot of socializing and couldn't just slurp oyster after oyster down.
and one more thing i love about maine is the oysters! seth and i love to go into harbor fish market and see what awesome selection of oysters they have on any given day. the usually have 8 to 10 variety, with the majority being from right here in maine. and in truth the inspiration for this post was a recent article in the new york times about oysters in maine. we love to get a selection -- a few pemaquids, a few damariscottas, a few wellfleets -- and see how their flavors compare. it didn't happen last february, but this winter i swear i'm gonna make it into j's oysters for their free oyster happy hour at least once.