Thursday, October 18, 2007


I can’t imagine living far away from a coast. Landlocked states like Nebraska terrify me – they feel claustrophobic and desiccated. I need to have access to the water, I need to see and smell the ocean, to be reminded that there is a great big world outside of my lab, outside of highways, hustle, tussle, and spazzola of every day life. I find the ocean therapeutic. It calms me down, slows my thoughts. The smell of the ocean alone is soothing enough, the sound is even better, being rocked by the waves is the ultimate sensation for inner peace.

The ocean is one of the main reasons I love Boston as much as I do. There is the city ocean, hemmed in by docks, ocean walks and water front restaurants, and there is the nature ocean stretching outside of the city, bordered by wide beaches, sand dunes, and forests. The nature ocean is on the Cape (that’s how we Bostonites refer to Cape Cod. THE Cape. There is no other Cape for us). The pro-Cape Cod propaganda in books and movies is spot on – it is a heavenly spot with great food, gorgeous views, and the kind of quiet stillness that is so sharply lacking in the middle of a city.

A two hour-long mini road trip brought me to Provincetown and Wellfleet at the tip of the Cape. The former is full of adorable gay boys and girls, the latter is teeming with fresh, local oysters (that’s oystahs to us Bostonites). The annual Wellfleet Oysterfest was the reason for the mini-holiday. The festival celebrates the eponymous oysters raised on farms in Wellfleet. The mild tasting, lightly briny Wellfleet oysters were everywhere, sold by local restaurants and oyster farmers - shucked oysters, unshucked oysters, grilled oysters, oyster stew, even an oyster shucking competition (which sounded waaay more exciting than it proved to be).

Maiya took an expert turn at shucking an oyster, while I shied away for fear of losing a finger. I don’t do well with knives.

The warm weather and shockingly blue skies were a great complement to gorging on fresh seafood and plastic cups of locally brewed Octoberfest. This most perfect festival day continued with a cranberry picking expedition and a bonfire on a deserted beach under a star-riddled sky, with potatoes and corn caramelizing in the embers. I can’t think of a better argument for living on a coast… or for eating your body weight in fresh oysters.


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna!
Just catching up on your entries (law school and Six Plates having sapped my time since we saw one another last month.) I really enjoyed the updates. The oysterfest looks fantastic, beautiful photos! I'm inspired into at least thinking about eating a raw oyster, a step in my gastronomic experience that has as yet gone untaken. Hope you are doing well. Sherry, Durham NC

Nitasha said...

Anna! We went there last year and it was really a highlight of 2006 for me. We ate dozens of oysters each and drank nearly as many beers. How fun that you got to go this year. I'm craving oysters now....great photos!

Hillary said...

I have never had an oyster before in my life, but after this post I can't wait to try one! That sunset is just gorgeous.

Anna said...

Sherry! Hi! So good to hear from you. Sorry that law school is getting to you. I hope Six Plates is progressing nicely.
Do try a raw oyster. When paired with something bubbly, like Prosecco, it is one of the best things in this world.

Nitasha - It was SO much fun. I loved every minute of it. I would like to say that I overdosed on oysters but that would be a lie. I could have kept going!

Hillary - You have two choices, as I see it - take the plunge (and the Prosecco) and try a raw oyster (you won't regret it), or take a slow and gentle introduction by trying oysters grilled or fried in a light batter. They taste very different when cooked, but will give you a good idea. The pizza supervisor had never had an oyster before the fair and he loved it!

JC said...

I've never lived by a coast. I do enjoy spending time by the ocean though. Around here you just have to make do with smaller bodies of water, like lakes. Did you know there's only one natural lake in Texas, and half of it is in Louisiana? Weird.

I've never had a raw oyster. I like 'em OK fried. I had a broiled one and I didn't care for it much. If I ever did have a raw one it would have to come from a farm. We've had a few people die around here over the last 4 years from eating raw Gulf of Mexico oysters. They had some kind of bacteria. Wow, this is making me hungry. And I like to call them ersters.

aimee said...

I've not had an oyster raw, fried, grilled, or otherwise. I'd like to try one but haven't really had the opportunity. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to try one. Clearly, or I surely would have had one by now. The idea of an oysterfest is lovely though. Celebrations of foods are just brilliant. Especially when paired with personal celebrations of wine or beer and good company.

I was once picked up (hitchhiking) by a man on his way to prepare for a garlic festival on Vancouver Island. I was so gutted I was leaving before it happened. I can only imagine what kind of heaven that would have been.

I totally agree with you about the ocean thing. Water is so good for my soul. It helps me focus and put my thoughts in order. Part of the hippy side in me wonders if it has anything to do with me being a water sign. Are you a water sign? I feel like you are. In which case, the results are conclusive!