The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Landscape of an oyster liar, er, lover

Rachael Conlin Levy

I’ve gone and unlocked the oyster while standing barefoot in the kitchen. I teased its shell open with a knife, cut it from its home and swallowed it as it lived. I’d said I wouldn’t do it because I believed it was one of those foods best served with starched linen and candles, which my home consistently lacks.

But I was wrong. The oyster has a split personality, while exquisite on a bed of crushed ice with chilled wine and mignonette, it’s just as tasty slurped over the kitchen sink and washed down with a beer. Eating  it this way, on a Friday evening as a rare sunset pours across the counter, as the children are busy elsewhere, as the promise of a weekend enters the home with a soft buzz that vibrates the walls, makes life, well, perfect.

Excerpt of “A Geography of Oysters” by Rowan Jacobsen. Photos by Marcel.


“Say you were the god of oyster eaters, charged with the task of designing oyster nirvana. You’d create an ocean current (like the North Pacific Gyre) that crosses thousands of miles of open water and stops right at your door, bringing an eternal supply of pristine cold water to keep temperatures low. You’d design a fractalized coast of fissures and inlets, all folded in on itself to make a myriad pockets of calm sheltered water (like Puget Sound).


“For variety, you’d throw in a genuine glacial fjord (a Hood Canal) whose icy waters produce a distinctively firm and clean-flavored oyster, plus a shallow seaside bay (such as Willapa) for briny oysters.


“You’d build an immense mountain range up on the coast (like the Olympics) to rake incoming clouds and create a climate of generous rain, feeding mountain rivers that sweep sweet nutrients and freshwater into the estuaries.


“And you’d add a culture of appreciative restaurateurs, seafood shops, and consumers, ensuring that every stunning waterfront had an eatery serving fresh local oysters.


“Welcome to oyster nirvana.”

2 responses to “Landscape of an oyster liar, er, lover”

  1. molly says:


  2. Fresh oysters with a nice cold beer and sunset seem perfect, to me. Forget those starched linens and candles.

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