Oysters vs. Crawdads?
Well, I have a healthy obsession with crawfish. My sister-in-law is from LA…she opened my eyes long ago. It’s tough to beat a proper crawfish boil, or Cajun food in general for that matter. Frankly, the Dionysian outlook that permeates Cajun culture as I’ve seen it is something to be embraced and celebrated. As a society, we probably need more of it, though not the caricaturization of it (if that’s a word). And crawfish is the perfect representative of the culture that prepares it best.
Crawfish has a latent, delicious beauty that needs to be teased out of it. It needs spice, it craves attention, it likes to be complemented by other flavors without being overshadowed. Ready to let loose and dance, it has a symbiotic relationship with the chef who prepares it. In the hands of a good chef, crawfish reaches its apex, and is capable of doing so because it is ready to party. Full of potential. Ready to burst forth in a flurry of bliss. And the personality of the chef, and indeed the crowd gathered to enjoy it, emerges, uniquely, at every crawfish boil, and shines through in the flavor that is aroused. Perfectly imperfect, ready to party, full of the emotion. The yin to the yang.
Oysters, on the other hand, don’t need any assistance. The lucky ones are innately beautiful. The last thing they need is encroachment, or some blowhard’s idea of what they should be. Similar in their carefree attitude, but different in their state of contentment. They are what they are; a product of the environment from where they come. And what they are shines through in their most natural state. The good ones were born with it, and are uninterested in being inspired to be anything else. Like Allen Iverson, they don’t give a fuck. They are a product of their environment, they know with focused precision that the best thing they can offer the world is to be what they are not what someone else wants them to be. When they have it, they have it, and nothing can make it better, especially not overbearing shit like horseradish. Their flavor tells a story worth listening to, if you’re only willing to listen. They taste like an experience worth experiencing. They taste like the sea; they taste specifically like the sea from which they came. If you give them the attention they deserve, they will take you to the particular stretch of the world they used to call home. An oyster is a tour guide that will take you to a far away place you may not know, but that you can experience if you allow yourself to listen with all of your senses. Oysters are like wine. And, like wine, they should be the ones telling the story.