All of the jobs I have ever held, apart from waitressing that one summer, have utilized my brain, not my (metaphoric) brawn. In this blog I have tried physical activities with a low-level of success. I was a terrible trapeze artist and an even worse pole dancer. Now, I am not bemoaning that fact; people have different strengths and mine are obviously not of the acrobatic variety. I am perfectly comfortable with that. This past weekend I decided to try something that, while not requiring a great deal of physical strength or flexibility, does require a little umph!
I, along with two fabulous friends, headed to The North End Fish Market. Every Saturday they offer oyster shucking classes from 1:00 to 3:00. It is free, you only pay for the oysters you shuck and eat. Our instructor Liz said she had been shucking “for a long time” the way old curmudgeons describe their lives, as if they are looking back through a very long looking-glass. But Liz looked too young to have been doing anything for all that long.
She walked us through the correct way to shuck: dig the tip of the knife into the hinge of the oyster, use your wrist to get some leverage to pop the hinge, run your knife the length of the right side of the oyster’s shell to detach the muscle from the top of the shell, open it up and then flip the meat inside to detach the muscle on the bottom. Last step: enjoy!
We tried it on our own, first with an Indian Neck from Wellfleet, then with the much trickier Conway Royal from PEI. After several warm-up oysters I asked Liz to challenge me, and boy did she deliver. The PEI oyster she handed me did not have the smooth lines of the others, it was bumpier and looked like a fossil from prehistoric times. Most importantly, it was really hard to get a grip on. I am not one to run away from a challenge (especially not one I requested), so I grabbed that sucker and got to it, digging my knife into the hinge like my life depending on it, and in some small way it did: I had talked myself up to our teacher and the rest of the class (note to self, anything new will be challenging enough, why up the ante with false bravado).
I had to trade the very challenging PEI in for a slightly easier one, but I did eventually get that darn oyster open and enjoyed every last bit of it.
The North End Fish Market is not accepting job applications at the moment so I will have to maintain my new-found skills at home. And I will, not only do I love oysters, this was really fun! Tricky at first, but with near instant gratification. What could be better? While full-time employment there is not in my future, Liz did invite me back for an entire day, so stay tuned for an upcoming post about the joys, and challenges, of handling and cutting raw, dead fish. I can’t wait!
I had a great time at the North End Fish Market, but paid for all the oysters I shucked and was not compensated in any way for this post.