“Canned (Shell)Fish 2

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.

34 thoughts on ““Canned (Shell)Fish 2

  1. I too grew up with canned oysters being a treat. Pickled herring is another one of those things out of my childhood. I love it and will still occasionally have it at holidays with my father’s family. Unfortunately my husband does not appreciate it at all (not being a big fan of either pickles or fish), and so I rarely splurge for and entire jar all on my own.


  2. My mom lived on Hood Canal and always had fresh clams and oysters. I didn’t care that much for either of them, though I didn’t mind the smoked oysters. Some folks ate oysters fresh and raw right from the shell on the beach. I finally tried a raw one – in a restaurant – and once was enough for me! πŸ˜‰


  3. My ex loved smoked kippers – which I occasionally also buy (canned) – but they are usually fairly expensive because they’ve imported. A lot of the smaller seafoods are, I’ve had canned oysters occasionally. And yes I can imagine how fun it is to have the whole can to oneself.

    And the dip with the onion soup/sour cream is still common here if you’ve from that vintage – dip your crisps (potato chips) in it as an appetiser at say a party… goes well with beer!


  4. I totally understand your experience. Mine was shrimp. I remember those parent cocktail parties with canned shrimp and Triscuits. Like you, I never had the real thing until much later in life. Seafood is only good on the coast, Atlantic or Pacific. But, the childhood memories are priceless.


  5. I used to love that onion dip, but with potato chips! And fresh πŸ¦ͺ on the half shell with a squeeze of πŸ‹ and a dash maybe of Tabasco…heaven!!!


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