Thursday, March 20, 2008

For The Shell of It




I do not love oysters, but I adore this duo of oyster plates found at New York City’s Housing Works. The shapely shell design of this serving plate makes me yearn for the approaching warm weather and the days of lounging on an old wooden boat while anticipating the red and orange streaks of a dropping golden sun. I also imagine this plate topped with gray lumps of oysters jiggling in their juices, ready to be dipped into a piquant red sauce from the dish’s blue, center bowl. I can almost hear martinis being shaken in a metal vessel or the cork popping off a vintage bottle of champagne, both fit for my fantasy oyster feast!

However, since I really don’t plan on eating these fictional oysters, I started thinking of other land-based uses for this fantastic plate. (Now I do love deviled eggs and their corresponding plates. So the uses could be similar.) What about taking this plate and using it as a catch-all on the dresser for odd change? It could also turn into the perfect jewelry organizer. Rings in one shell section, bracelets in another. I would display my many cufflinks from all over the world. Use it to serve other hors d'oeuvre, candies, or nuts. The uses for these sea-worthy plates are limited only by the imagination!

I’m also reminded of a story that an old friend recounts to me each time we’re en route to our Fire Island beach destination. The story pops out as we pass the Oyster Bay exit and ends in quite a little tongue twister. As a child growing up in the South, he tells of a family friend who really was named Esther Oyster. My version of Esther Oyster has evolved into that of a woman who only lives in my brain. Esther Oyster has a curly mop of gray hair above a pair of red cat-eye glasses and she's wearing a red checked apron as she shucks these sea creatures in a red metal glider on her front porch. She might even have a bit of a mustache above her sweat-dripping upper lip that she tightly purses as she coaxes her knife into the opening of the oyster shell.

For some childhood fun, he and his sisters made up a little line that as kids tickled them to no end. And today, every time we pass by the Oyster Bay exit, whether it’s the middle of August or this holiday weekend, we can’t help but giggle as we repeat it: “Happy Easter Esther Oyster!”

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