Category Archives: Hospitality Industry

How NOT to Shuck an Oyster

All pictures used in this blog were taken by myself (Lisa Beuning).

Because I am literally starting from scratch at my new apartment in Seattle I have had to improvise on more than one occasion. For example when I needed to pound a nail into the wall I used a full can of soup in lieu of a hammer. And when I needed to crack open a Dungeness crab I used the handle of a butter knife instead of a seafood cracker or mallet. Seasoning for my cooking? Just head outside to find a rosemary bush and snap a couple of branches off. No scissors? A serrated knife will do just fine. I will admit I have become quite resourceful!

But some things are just not meant to be improvised. And you may not realize it until it is too late. Another way of saying this; learning things the hard way.

I (or we) were reminded of the oh so important lesson last Friday evening. What started out as a romantic early Valentine’s Day dinner hosted by yours truly almost turned into a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital. Not the ending I had envisioned for this evening in particular.

Here is how the day/events unfolded:

Friday, February 11th

12:22 pm
Stop at Pike Place Market to pick up fresh fish and oysters for dinner. Knowing that I did not have an oyster knife at home I asked if they could shuck the oysters for me. I was informed they could not. But not to worry because it is easy to do! They even provided a quick demo stating that a butter knife would work just as well.

2:46 pm
Dinner guest sent a text message saying he would be by at 5:30 pm ready and willing to help prep for dinner. So I saved the oyster shucking and green bean snapping just for him.

5:37 pm
Dinner guest arrived. After providing him instructions I put him to work shucking oysters while I continued to prepare French Onion Soup.

Doug shucking before incident. He looks happy to help don't you think?

6:14 pm
After requests for a towel, a bowl for shells, another short knife, and a regular butter knife, we finally had our first shelled oyster. Next thing I heard was a little cursing, something about a pocket knife, a little more cursing, a question about why I didn’t ask him to bring an oyster knife instead of the wire whisk I requested, a little more mumbling, then a big, loud curse word (which I won’t mention here to keep this PG rated).

6:15 pm
We now had two shucked oysters and a bloodied, cut hand. We honestly thought the cut was deep enough that it might require stitches. I was immediately grateful for living amidst three hospitals. As I was sorting through in my mind which one we should walk to to get the care required for my oyster shucking friend, we tended to the cut as much as we could with home remedies.

Two delicious oysters

Bandaged cut after 'the incident.'

6:42 pm
By this time we had determined the cut did not need surgical care so continued  the preparation of dinner.

The following morning I received a photo via my phone of an oyster knife with an attached message stating ‘I’m just saying.’ Which spurred me to go out and find myself a real oyster knife so I could enjoy the rest of the fresh, delicious oysters safely.  After a trip to Value Village, Trader Joe’s, and Madison Market Co-op, I found and purchased one on sale at QFC. Time it took to shuck and eat the remaining mollusks? Ten minutes tops.

Oysters opened with the correct tool.

Biggest lesson learned? Use the right tool for the right job. Even if the solution seems like a ‘quick fix’ or an easy substitute, people have done what you’ve done and learned the hard way already. That is how the greatest inventions are made. And why some blogs are posted. So don’t try to reinvent the wheel or take a short cut. Or if you do, share your success with others and try to patent it!

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