“An oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life. Indeed, his chance to live at all is slim, and if he should survive the arrows of his own outrageous fortune and in the two weeks of his carefree youth find a clean smooth place to fix on, the years afterwards are full of stress, passion and danger.” –M.F.K. Fisher

M.F.K Fisher

There is something extravagant about eating oysters, maybe due to their exciting lives as Fisher describes it. This holiday I have been re-reading “Consider the Oyster” and making them a part of my holiday menus. Last week I tackled oyster stew–a deliciously elegant experience–and this week it is baked oysters. After the richness of holiday eating, this simple casserole will make a meal in itself, possibly accompanied by a simple green salad.

This is Fisher’s recipe for baked oysters, but as she says “variations can be played ad infinitum on this theme, even by beginners and harried hurriers, as sliced onions, tomato sauce, herbs, mustard, and cream all find a fairly safe resting-place in it.”
BAKED OYSTERS, “Into a shallow baking dish, well buttered, spread a light layer of bread or cracker crumbs. Then put in a layer of oysters, and season well with salt and fresh ground pepper with bits of sweet butter. Next, put more crumbs and butter on top. Pour enough oyster juice to moisten things, and bake in a quick oven until brown but not bubbling.”
Simplicity itself, it is decadence without fuss–and as we end one year to begin another I think it is a fitting way to begin the new year. Fisher opens her book with a quote from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, “Secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.” To share the secret flavors of the ocean from the self-contained shell is truly a treat.
“Life is hard, we say. An oyster’s life is worse. She lives motionless, soundless, her own cold ugly shape her only dissipation, and if she escapes the menace of duck-slipper-mussel-Black-Drum-leech-sponge-borer-starfish, it is for man to eat, because of man’s own hunger…Its life has been thoughtless but no less full of danger, and now that it is over we are perhaps the better for it.” –M.F.K Fisher