My parents threw dinner parties now and then for clients and associates from my father’s law firm. Each time the appetizers were the same. One standard was a smoked oyster atop a Triscuit cracker. The other was sour cream mixed with dried Lipton Onion Soup Mix, again with a Triscuit. I had the job of spearing each oyster with a toothpick, and leaving the open can next to the crackers. I also was responsible for mixing the sour cream with the onion soup mix. I enjoyed sneaking an oyster for myself and rearranging them so that its absence wasn’t noticeable before the tray went out.
I never tasted a fresh oyster until many years later when I was handed one on the shell and told to swallow it whole. I found the experience disgusting and still have trouble understanding the idea of trying different varieties as a gourmet treat. Perhaps if they were as tiny as the smoked ones I might have had a different opinion.
In college I encountered oyster stew, a favorite in New England. I liked it only slightly more than the raw one. For me the best part of oyster stew was the accompanying oyster crackers. Now that I know it is possible to buy the crackers and forgo the stew, that is what I have continued to do.
I still occasionally get an urge to eat the canned smoked oysters of my childhood. I get out a handful of toothpicks, a box of Triscuits, and open the can. I have never found anyone interested in joining me, so I get the whole tin to myself. A vast improvement over the one sneakily eaten many years ago.