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Oysters 101

By James Glave
  You can't visit PEI without slurping down a Malpeque, and you can't do that until you open the thing properly. Fortunately, qualified counsel is close at hand. The "juice" of a Malpeque oyster is not actually juice. It's a half-ounce or so of distilled Atlantic Ocean that the prized mollusk seals inside its shell, like a time capsule, the moment it's pulled from the sea. If performed correctly, the shuck - the jab-and-twist motion of forcing the creature to let go - will preserve every precious drop of that ambrosial brine for the palate.
     That said, like a golf swing, the oyster shuck is not something you can learn by reading a book. You need a qualified coach to get the correct motion down, and on Prince Edward Island, that's John Bil, a former oysterman and three-time Canadian Oyster Shucking Champion.
     "Shucking is a serious thing," explains Bil. "If you've been involved in the business like I have, you understand how hard it is to produce an oyster. When you go to a restaurant and see someone shredding them - well, it fills you with despair. I mean, you have to ask yourself, 'What criminal acts are being performed here?'"
     Savor the delicacy without running afoul of culinary law; sign up for "Shucking 101," Bil's two-hour workshop, available in Charlottetown, PEI, between June and October. "At the end of the day," the master promises, "you'll see how good an oyster can really be."

James Glave is a writer and consultant based on Bowen Island, BC, who focuses his work on sustainable-development issues and local solutions to global challenges. His first book, Almost Green (Greystone/Skyhorse), was released in September 2008. Glave blogs at www.glave.com.

Photo Credit & Article:
courtesy, Canadian Tourism Commission

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