Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Lou & Lucy’s Leftovers: Aw, shucks!

When is an oyster shell not an oyster shell?

To find out the answer to this riddle, take a ride with me to Wellfleet, where my wife and I spent a recent vacation.

Every year we travel to a lovely bed-and-breakfast inn on the water. Every year we meet up with another couple. Every year the two husbands (that would be Bill and me) would go out to lunch at the Bookstore restaurant and run up huge tabs from eating raw oysters and raw littleneck clams and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. I mean huge tabs, hundreds of dollars slurped away in the pursuit of hedonistic gustatory pleasure.

This year Bill and I had a thought (guys have at least one thought every year).

Why not shuck our own oysters and littlenecks and buy our own alcohol?

So we purchased two sturdy oyster knives, one clam knife and lots of beer.

Throw in two dish towels, lots of newspaper to cover the picnic table and a gas grill (to be explained in due time), and we were ready to go.

∎ The first day: Learning to use the oyster knives properly. We shucked three dozen oysters and ate them in about two hours, taking our time to develop the proper shucking technique (which basically means not cutting your hands to ribbons). A success. We alternated shucking and slurping the oysters with eating two dozen littlenecks grilled just until they popped open. Beer cold.

∎ The second day: Bill and I both feeling our oyster oats. We shucked and ate four dozen while also eating two dozen littlenecks. Beer still cold.

∎ The third day: four dozen more oysters and two dozen more littlenecks. By now Bill and I were shucking the oysters in mere seconds. So we decided to try grilling them. We shucked a dozen, dotted them with butter and lemon juice and espellette pepper and grilled them until they turned opaque. Close to perfection. Perfection being a raw oyster you just shucked yourself.

Not perfection: Cutting your thumb trying to shuck a littleneck. But this just makes us more determined to train ourselves to shuck the littlenecks. We’ll see what the fourth day brings.

By now, we have been given the title “Shuckmeisters” by those in the know (Bill and me).

And as all Shuckmeisters know, you take the 15 dozen empty oyster and clam shells and throw them on the crushed-shell driveway the innkeeper Dan is building.

Answer to the riddle: When it becomes a paving stone.

But, aw shucks, everybody knows that.

­— Lou

Thank God they didn’t close the oyster beds down in Welfleet, like they have been doing in Marthas Vineyard and some other seaside communities. You guys would starve to death. Well, I guess you could always live on beer for a while.

— Lucy

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