After All These Years, Dick Stein Slurps Down His Very First Raw Oyster

Dec 28, 2016

The first time I ever did it was right out in public in front of everyone at the Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar on Queen Anne. My first raw oyster.

Here's how it went:

So, how was it, you ask? 

I liked it. So I had another. And another. Nancy Leson started me out on the smallish Olympia oyster. 

Later, she opined that the Olympia, the only oyster native to the Pacific Northwest, is "a great entry-level oyster, but also kind of whussy "because of its small size." She claims the Oly is about the size of a quarter.  Looked more like a half-dollar to me, but then again, it was my first.

So what are they like? Not slimy, not gross — none of the stuff I'd feared. The Olys were sort of crisp when I bit into them. The Totten Inlet oysters I tried next had a stronger flavor and a very briny liquid. As I remarked to Nancy, they really are sort of like the ocean-made chewable.

If you, like me, have spent decades putting off your first raw oyster, take it from me that they're not off-putting at all. As Nancy points out, the Pacific Northwest really is "Oyster nirvana." And in addition to the fine folks at Taylor Shellfish there's certainly no shortage of great oyster bars in the area. Here's Seattle Magazine's "Best Oyster Palaces and Raw Bars."

"'O Oysters,' said the Carpenter,
'You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none --
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one."

– Lewis Carroll, "The Walrus and the Carpenter"

Originally aired February 18, 2015