Rob Schoen: ‘You are entitled to think whatever you choose to think, though I may find it wrong-headed and duplicitous. Today’s column was the first in my recollection, however, where you essentially called your critics stupid, or at least not as capable of reasoned thought as you. That’s a slippery slope and I hope not your intent.’

☞ I appreciate reasoned criticism. But those whose e-mails just lash out with insult rather than logic are intellectually lazy, in my view – though, you are certainly right, not necessarily stupid. I would suggest that to call someone’s thinking wrong-headed is fine (even I think I am wrong-headed from time to time, not to mention tedious, self-indulgent, or – my favorite – just plain dopey). But calling someone’s thinking duplicitous may be a slippery slope of its own.

Frank McC: ‘Even if the worst about Enron turns out to be true, is it any worse than Chinese businessmen financing the Clintons and the Democratic Party?’

☞ It might well be worse, but let’s assume they are equivalent. Is your point that no fuss should have been made about the Chinese contributions? Or is it that since a huge fuss was made about them, that’s enough fuss for now and we should fuss no more? I think both were/are subjects of legitimate inquiry. Enron is, after all, the largest bankruptcy in our history, and energy policy affects us all.

Frank continues: You write: ‘I certainly hope it doesn’t require special prosecutors or any of that – I don’t think any of us wants to go through that again.’ Really? Honestly? You mean you wouldn’t love to see the Bush Presidency destroyed and Democrats benefit?

☞ I sure would NOT love to see it destroyed. And when it does something good, like appoint an openly gay ambassador to Rumania, or handle the aftermath to 9/11 so well for the most part, I try to say it. And we all should say it. And I think you will find that a lot of Democrats do – most recently, Senator Clinton on ‘Meet the Press’ this past Sunday, loud and clear.

Frank: ‘Fairness, I say. Fairness.’

☞ Yes! But fairness for the 95% of Americans who are not at the top of the pyramid, too. Thanks, Frank. You’re right about the level of partisanship. Who doesn’t yearn for more collegial, frank discourse? But until we get that, how about a nice oyster cocktail?

*

Let me tell you something about HILTON’S FRESH PACIFIC EXTRA SMALL WILLAPOINT OYSTERS. They’re huge. I don’t know whether Hilton is being ironic by labeling them extra small, or merely trying to frighten people from swimming in the Pacific. Oysters are one of the few ocean dwellers I ordinarily do not fear; but if these are extra small, I can only begin to imagine those that would be extra large – and I don’t want to risk being swallowed by one. (‘What’s this, Orville – a pearl?’ ‘No, it looks more like some guy’s head.’)

Oysters are a dangerous food. Any school kid knows they should be eaten only when they ‘R’ in season – months with an R in them (i.e., not May, June, July and August), except that with the advent of refrigeration, they may not be much more dangerous when they Rn’t than when they R. Hilton sells them in pint containers – all raw oyster, no shell – in the refrigerated (let’s hope) section of some supermarkets’ fish departments, and warns that if you suffer from liver or stomach problems, you should eat them fully cooked.

Now let’s back up. Why would anyone eat raw oysters, you ask? (And how do they have sex? But that’s a separate column.) Two reasons: First, once you get over your initial revulsion, you may well decide that the good ones taste just great. Second, oysters have long held allure as an aphrodisiac.

‘Keep away from oysters, whatever you do,’ ran a sprightly line from Bottoms Up, the acclaimed 1969 Hasty Pudding Theatrical, ‘and just for the hell of it, you can be a celibate, too – da-doo-da-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo!’

And sure enough, if you click here, you will find this slogan: Forget Viagra, Eat Brady’s Oysters. With it comes an offer to buy some very pricey oysters, flown to your door, still in their big, heavy, clunky shells.

The beauty of HILTON’S FRESH PACIFIC EXTRA SMALL WILLAPOINT OYSTERS (which have made it all the way from South Bend, Washington, to South Beach, Florida, though very possibly not to your supermarket) is that for $7.99 you get a pint container filled to the brim with oysters in their ‘liquor’ (as the liquid oysters live in is called). Because the extra smalls are so large, it’s probably about 10 oysters to the pint. To fill the same pint with the kind of oysters you get in some restaurants for $2 a pop it would probably require 50 of them, once you shucked and chucked the shells. (How many shells, he yells as she sells seashells, could a woodchuck shuck, if a woodchuck could shuck shells?)

So look what’s happening here. You’re getting maybe $100 of oysters for $7.99, and you don’t have to put on a jacket and tie to eat them. You can eat them at home . . . like a guy.

And how, exactly, does a guy do that?

Well, I have two recipes to offer, neither requiring dishware; just a fork.

Raw. I accept absolutely NO liability for this – if you eat raw oysters you will probably die – but here is what I do.

  • Step 1: Open the container.
  • Step 2: Open a jar of cocktail sauce.
  • Step 3: Seize the above-referenced fork.
  • Step 4: Use the fork to drop one of the oysters into the jar of cocktail sauce; mush it around a little, remove, and eat. Mmmm, mmm, good!
  • Step 5: Repeat.
  • Step 6: Wash fork. Call 911.

Cooked. This involves a lot more work and doesn’t taste as good. But it’s still pretty awesome.

  • Step 1: Pour the pint of oysters and their liquor into your smallest pot or pan.
  • Step 2: OK, go crazy – toss in half a stick of butter or, if you’re cooking like a guy with high cholesterol, a big spoonful of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Lite™.
  • Step 3: Salt and pepper are always good.
  • Step 4: Cook on low to medium until you think that whatever is wrong with the oysters is dead. Ten minutes? You can throw in a little milk, too, ala “oyster stew,” although I have a feeling a little beer might go well with it instead, but I haven’t tried that yet.
  • Step 5 (the most important step): Restrain yourself! This sucker is hot! But then, after an appropriate cooling off period, seize the afore-referenced fork and eat from the pot, eventually (checking first to be sure you won’t burn your lips) drinking the salty, buttery liquor that remains at the bottom. Mmm, mmm!
  • Step 6: Clean fork and pot.

For elaborate recipes I have not tried – if you’re not really a guy, in other words – click here.

Have a great weekend and please come back Monday or I’ll worry that I killed you.

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