Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Anthony and the Oyster

Speaking of oysters and getting all hot and bothered, have you read what Anthony Bourdain wrote about his very first?
“Monsiuer Saint Jour (the oyster fisher), on hearing this – as if challenging his American passengers – inquired in his thick Girondais accent, if any of us would care to try an oyster. My parents hesitated. I doubt they’d realized they might actually have to eat one of the raw, slimy things we were currently floating over. My little brother recoiled in horror. But I, in the proudest moment of my young life, stood up smartly, grinning with defiance, and volunteered to be the first. And in that unforgettably sweet moment of my personal history, that moment still more alive for me than so many of the other ‘firsts’ which followed – first pussy, first joint, first day in high school, first published book, or any other thing – I attained glory. Monsieur Saint-Jour beckoned me over to the gunwale, where he leaned over, reached down until his head nearly disappeared underwater, and emerged holding a single silt-encrusted oyster, huge and irregularly shaped, in his rough, claw like fist. With a snubby, rust covered oyster knife, he popped the thing open and handed it to me, everyone watching now, my little brother shrinking away from this glistening, vaguely sexual-looking object, still dripping and nearly alive. I took it in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the by now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour, and with one bite and a slurp, wolfed it down. It tasted seawater… of brine and flesh… and somehow… of the future. I’d not only survived – I’d enjoyed. This, I knew, was the magic I had until now only dimly and spitefully aware of. I was hooked. My parents’ shudders, my little brother’s expression of unrestrained revulsion and amazement only reinforced the sense that I had, somehow, become a man. I had had an adventure, tasted forbidden fruit, and everything that followed in my life – the food, the long and often stupid and self-destructive chase for the next thing, whether it was drugs or sex or some other new sensation – would all stem from this moment. I’d learned something. Viscerally, instinctively, spiritually – even in some precursive way, sexually – and there was no turning back. The genie was out of the bottle.”

See, Anthony Bourdain, this is why we love you.

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