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BLOG-Oy, Those Oysters

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The dish I yearn for at Thanksgiving isn’t one that comes to most people’s mind. It is a dish that I remember for its overwhelming aroma as much as its buttery goodness. That dish is scalloped oysters.

It is the dish that takes me back to the home of my grandparents on my father’s side. Scent carries us back across time deserts…the vast ages…chasms that normally appear untransversable. But then suddenly I am transported back into the lap of my grandmother.

My father gave me the recipe…a savory parfait of sorts…alternating layers of dairy, cracker, and mollusk. He tells me to set the oven to 375 degrees and to give myself an hour to prepare and bake the dish. And to save a bite for him…it is so good.

Use oyster crackers, he tells me. I don’t know where to find them but at Current Cuisine I have found a favorite cracker free of gluten and full of nutty flavor. I decide to try them as substitute. Though my father says to layer alternately with cracker, oyster, butter, I look on the bottom of my baking dish from Miami Valley Pottery and decide to flip the stack.

I complete two layers…butter, crackers, oysters; butter, cracker, oysters…and add a layer of crackers on top. With each layer, I inhale and find myself standing in another kitchen with a rug floor, at the shoulder of a woman with dark hair and sure hands. I hear her voice. I feel the texture of her countertop. As we add our pan to her oven, I see the wind of the coils in her electric stove, the grey enamel walls speckled with white.

When we put the dish on the community table, I watch people spoon into the dish and release the wafting heat and steam into the hall. They carry away a time I yearn to recapture, a dear memory to savor at the holiday table.


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