Lets consign the oyster fork to dust bin of dining history. Here’s why I say that.
I ate oysters and clams this weekend. On the half shell. Fresh out of Katama Bay on Martha’s Vineyard. Nestled in ice. Consumed as soon as they were opened. Simply beyond compare.
I’ve been opening and eating clams and oysters on the half shell pretty much my whole life. I have movies of my father wading in knee-deep water at a secret clamming spot, finding clams with his toes, picking them up, opening them right then and there, and slurping them down. Frankly, as a youngster, I had no idea there was any other way to eat them other than squeezing a little lemon on the freshly opened clam and then picking up the half shell of pure ambrosia and sliding that luscious morsel into my mouth.
Whenever I’m out and anyone orders oysters, I see them look at the oysters and then at the oyster fork and hesitate. I can see them thinking: “That fork is there for a reason so I better use it.”
Have you ever tried eating an oyster or a clam with an oyster fork? It’s messy. You try to spear it, and maybe you succeed. But still it dangles from the fork most unappetizingly, and then you drip all that good clam or oyster juice onto the plate, your napkin, or maybe your blouse or shirt as well.
And still, my advice is if you’re out at a restaurant with your boss or someone else equally important to you, in spite of your reservations about using the oyster fork, do it. Try your best to balance that slippery devil on the fork or spear it and get it to your mouth without making a mess.
But if you’re the boss or the important person, or you’re with friends, I hope you might recognize the ridiculousness of the situation and alleviate the oyster/clam eater from his or her misery. “John (or Mary or Dan or Betty), please go ahead and pick up that oyster on the half shell and enjoy it the way it should be eaten.”
There is something exquisite about the flavor of a fresh oyster on a half shell. It is the taste of the sea. Everyone who was eating them with me this weekend commented on that special flavor. And they all enjoyed them on the half shell the way they should be eaten.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."