Called Out Pt 2

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader finds himself called out and put in his place by the delightful Mrs P.

Apparently, in a comment on Wing Commander Seal’s site your Maximum Leader proverbially “stepped in it.” This is what happens when you open up about things and are honest in blogging… To excerpt Mrs P:

The Maximum Leader said…

I am glad to see that you will not be ordering oysters at your club (although I’m sure that if your club offered oysters they would be fine). I find that in areas more than a 4 hours drive by car/truck from a major body of salty/brackish water is not the type of region in which one wants to order shellfish. I will go further and say that in areas more than 4 hours drive from a major body of water ordering fish may be suspect.

Many people, mistakenly, believe that this little personality foible of mine stems from a concern about the freshness of the product concerned. In fact, as Maximum Leader, I have a considerable understanding of how fish is caught, prepared and shipped. Indeed, my concern comes more from experience in how non-coastal places tend to prepare fish.

This said, I’m sure your club’s poisson courses are delicious and well prepared.

Are you sure that you should make a special request for Mrs P and Card’s Wife? Something like Dinde Grand-duc? (Can’t find a link to the recipe - but you can find it in your handy copy of Larousse Gastronomique.)

Now, Maximum Leader, or Maxy, as he is known here, is quite the expert at most things, especially ham pillows, but Maxy, we need to talk. This advice of advoiding shellfish 4 hours from brackish water is not advice that leads to a happy life. Life must have risks or it isn’t a life. Besides, men have understood the oyster and how to pack it for travel for centuries. Emma, which Jane Austen penned in 1816, takes place in the imaginary village of Highbury. Highbury is 16 miles from London and the families of Highbury, in the days before dentistry and antibiotics, regularly partook of oysters in season and not one of them cashed in their chips though the book lasted long enough for a couple to be married and then bring forth a child. A middle-aged couple no less, hence the regular partaking of oysters. Back in those days, in season was as key to enjoying oysters as was the proper packing of said bivalves.

The late cook, Julia Child, had grandparents who hailed from St. Louis. Julia was born in 1912. So, if one does the math, this would place Julia’s grandparents in St. Louis prior to St. Louis becoming the dog food capital of America. Or, about 20 years before the turn of the 20th century. According to Julia, every winter her grandfather would order a barrel of oysters from a reputable purveyor of oysters in New York City. The reputable oyster purveyor would have his men pack the oysters in a barrel surrounded in seaweed wit the well of the oyster shell facing downwards. This kept the oyster completely content inside the little seawater bath inside it’s shell with enough little oceany things for it to dine on. The oysters, not having a brain, didn’t even know they were no longer in the sea. The barrel was then placed on a steam locomotive, right side up, and transported to St. Louis where the oysters kept well for several weeks in the cold basement of Julia’s grandfather’s home. So the moral of this tale is that the key to enjoying oysters away from the sea is to see how they have been treated before you consume them : they must be placed well side down. Otherwise they will grow sick and eventually die. More than that, you will think you are dying if you consume a mistreated oyster. The good news is that a mistreated oyster gives off such a bad odor, one has to be beyond inebriated and really in a horizontal state to be enough of an idiot consider consuming it. If someone tells you, they were once made sick from a bad oyster or even a clam or mussel, nod your head and listen patiently with concerned eyes to their lament.

Your Maximum Leader can do nothing in the face of this commentary. (Save, of course, take it like a man. Even if it means… Radishing.) In the Socratic sense of offering an apology, he will have to say that it has been his experience that once one goes a way from salty/brackish water, the talent for preparing “fish” starts to diminish. Your Maximum Leader, rather arbitrially, set his distance away from salty/brackish water as 4 hours by car or truck.

Fish, including most shellfish, is a dish that take a little talent to prepare. It is easy to overcook, it is easy to undercook. And when fish isn’t done well, it is… Gross… Why on earth would one want to subject oneself to poorly done fish? He hopes that longtime readers, especially those living more than 4 hours than car/truck from brackish/salty water, will overlook this very minor foible in your Maximum Leader’s personality.

As enjoyable as it is to be taken to task by the delightful Mrs P, your Maximum Leader will try not to make a habit of running afoul of her.

Carry on.

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