Over the past few days it has been a rare moment when there has not been a bottle in front of me which state of affairs is, according the joke in many a Christmas cracker, infinitely preferable to a frontal lobotomy. I am relieved that my encounters with the ghost of Christmas Pissed are confined to the past, when the Yuletide Saturnalia demanded, and was afforded by this willing acolyte, an over indulgence in alcohol fueled devotions, often climaxing in the sudden ability to speak in tongues accompanied by an irresistible urge to kneel for many a long hour in noisome prayer before the porcelain altar. Yet even with restraint, and maybe on account of that very restraint, the length and stagnation of indolent days lobotomises as surely as any knife. Being abnormally tranquil, in accordance with the definition of the results of such a procedure, is no longer a hardship to me. Life in the slow lane is very much to my current taste, as are oysters. In the land of Lethargy the sloth is a cheetah on crystal meth when compared with the oyster, who is happy just to be, occasionally creating a pearl or another oyster. Few living things are more tranquil than the oyster although the Dalai Lama does spring to mind. Maybe I should rephrase that. Few living things that one is about to eat are as tranquil as the oyster which is probably why we eat them alive. If oysters put up a fight the Walrus and the Carpenter would have been toast. But there is a darker side to the oyster in that he may only be safely consumed when alive for to do otherwise would be to join him on the other side. This possibility may add a frisson of fear to some amateurs of the oyster, as in those who cannot resist the fugu fish, but not for me. I have never found that fear increases my appetite although it does increase my desire to evacuate anything that I may have recently ingested. I put my trust in those who cultivate them in this area and so far I have been proved right is so placing my trust.
These oysters were from Marennes Oleron on the Atlantic coast of France. I find that oysters from there are the best that I have eaten. The Atlantic coast, from Arcachon up to Brittany, produces very good oysters but those from Marennes Oleron have the right taste for me. Nothing improves on eating them directly from the shell. Lemon adds a zest that that fits with their marine lusciousness, whilst crisp white wine and bread prepare the palate for the next moment of pleasure. Altogether a very tranquil and satisfying experience…..if the Dalai Lama is not available.