It has been a busy several days for me here on the island. This weekend the regional non-profit organization, Salt Water Connections, sponsored their first ever "Winter Assembly" on the island (more on that in a day or two), and I was in charge of child care for Lachlan while Amy & David were off the island. So I am a bit behind in reporting about Ocracoke community life.
On Thursday evening several neighbors joined together to purchase a bushel of oysters. As we sat down at the table I realized I had forgotten to bring my camera. I hope the following description helps our readers envision a coastal Carolina steamed oyster dinner.
The kitchen table was covered with newspapers. No plates, forks, spoons, or table knives were set out; just oyster knives. An open box of saltine crackers graced one end of the table. A roll of paper towels served as napkins. One small bowl held cocktail sauce; another, melted butter.
Our host brought a steaming pot from the stove and dumped a quarter of a bushel of oysters into an aluminum baking pan. Seven hands reached out to retrieve oysters. Knives were thrust between the partially opened shells, and plump oysters plucked out. After dipping them into the cocktail sauce or the butter they were simply dropped into open mouths or eaten on saltines.
Bottles of beer were emptied. Lively conversation erupted between mouthfuls. Stories were told. Laughter filled the room. Another pot of steaming oysters was dumped into the soon empty baking pan. This was repeated until the last pan was emptied and everyone had "run ashore." There were no side dishes, and no desserts...just scrumptious Pamlico Sound oysters, a wintertime coastal North Carolina treat of unparalleled flavor; a celebration of a superb regional cuisine.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of windmills on Ocracoke. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012113.htm.