I sit outside on the terrace, the air is cool, the sun is fighting to stay at the party; in front of me on the table, like a pile of rocks, two dozen oysters are waiting in a basket.
I have never opened an oyster before, let alone dozens! But some French chef on YouTube convinced me I could do it…
They look like geological samples, formed by layers of sediment accumulated over time.
I pick one and hold it. Rough. One could get hurt falling or walking on that.
The late morning sun reveals the richness and subtlety of its coloring. How would I paint it? Raw umber wash to start, I think…the color of sand and sea weed. It feels cool and moist in the palm of my hand.
I look for the seam in the shell, the point of entry, the spot to breach… Not so evident. The treasure is well protected in this live fortress…
I fold a dish towel in several layers, take it in my left hand and place the oyster on it, its lips facing out to the right. In my right hand I hold the short wide knife, controlling the blade with my thumb.
I need to break its resistance; if I can insert the tip of the blade, the oyster doesn’t have a prayer.
I pick a spot two-thirds of the way down from the hinge that offers possibilities. I rock the blade into it; I worry it, prying the edges ever so slowly but with determination…
The oyster can’t run away from my assault, it can only do what oysters always do: close up and hang tight in a vain effort at survival…
The blade is in. I now work it up towards the muscle that holds the lid over the soft flesh within it, the prize, the gift… And the oyster surrenders.
I carefully remove the top of this concealed world where one can both quench thirst and sate hunger. It smells like the air in Brittany… It is an island edged in black lace; its ruffled softness spread over nacre like a stormy cloud. Exquisite, exotic, foreign,fragile, enticing, primal.
I need to taste this tempting fruit de mer.
Gently I detach it from its world, bring the shell to my mouth, tip it, let it slide on my tongue and swallow it along with its remnant of forgotten tide.
Salty and tangy, smooth and sweet, it invades me to my delight.
Then a prayer comes to my mind : “Please forgive me; I killed you for my pleasure”.