Eight Oysters Stewing

Once I ordered an oyster stew
alone, tee hee, alone.
One little oyster came in to view
alone, tee hee alone.

He winked at me and he smiled at me
“I’ve been in many a stew”, said he.
“But don’t tell the cook that you saw me
alone, tee hee, alone!”

We really don’t have a big traditional Christmas dinner that I can recall. Maybe a ham or some turkey or a quiche or something but nothing so memorable as Thanksgiving dinner. What we did have was the traditional Christmas eve oyster stew. Mom would cook up the stew which was the last barrier before opening the present boxes. All my relatives outside my immediate family live out of state so Christmas would arrive at our house in cardboard box installments. These packaged packages would wait unopened in the den until Christmas eve when we would haul them out to the tree and cut the packing tape and fish out the presents.

But first there was the stew. My sister hates anything remotely fish related and has adopted the mantra, “If it comes from the sea, it does not go into me.” I guess for the purposes of the rhyme, fresh water fish are from the sea as well. Regardless, oyster stew was not something she ever enjoyed. For me, it was sort of a mix of likes and dislikes. I never liked the broth which tasted like metallic milk and butter warmed up. I never much liked the taste and texture of warm milk either so maybe that has something to do with it. The oysters, however, were great. Loved loved loved those things. I was always the one dredging the bottom with the ladle so that my two scoops of stew contained as many oysters as physically possible.

So every December 24th my family could be found around the table dishing ourselves some stew and waiting for the moment when dinner was done and it was time to take the presents out. It seems an odd tradition to have kept up all those years. My sister hated every part of the stew, my dad never cared for it, I disliked the broth and just recently I discovered that my mum doesn’t much like the oysters. Even she who was the driving force of this particular holiday ritual was not terribly faithful to liking it. Therefore, I think that this particular tradition can just fade into the fabric of my history never to rear it’s ugly head before present placing again. If I need an oyster fix, I’ll just go out and get me a can of them. And maybe some of those stoneground crackers. Mmmmm.

Leave a Reply