It’s too dangerous, he said. You’ll get hurt, no doubt about it.
I didn’t care what he said, I would be damned if I’d let someone else tell me anymore what risks were worth taking. It was something I’d never done before in my life, though I’d heard about it, read about it, even snuck a video on the internet once or twice.
Anyone who told me it was too dangerous for little old me to try to shuck oysters could take a long walk off a short pier. I was going to try it, even if I didn’t have a damned oyster knife. After all, someone had done it before the utensil and cut-gloves were invented. Cavemen did it with flints, after all. I was pretty damned sure I could figure it out with a Joy of Cooking at hand.
This is what too many hand-towels and good paring knives are for, after all.
It works just like it says in the book. Slowly, carefully, you stick the point in at the hinge. Shove slowly but surely, prying away, keeping the sharp edge away from your hand as you wiggle and push, waggle and shove, gentle yet firm, then turn the knife, go at it from a different approach, another angle, take a new grip, until all of a sudden there’s a suck-sliding-pop as the hinge muscle yields and you can scrape your good paring knife down the inside of the flat sided shell, pry it off, plop it with a nice, declarative clatter into a bowl and then scrape out the muscle into a sieve, saving the liquor beneath because that shit is gold, and you’ve worked hard to uncover its secrets.
And if you slurp one down, right out of the shell, briny and cold and shocking in its slimy chewy cold secret perfection, all the better because you were the one who got it to yield– well, you’re the one who gets to tell or gets to pretend like you never knew there was one missing from the small, slithering pile of innermost guts that you’ve spilled, not as you smile while you think to yourself, realizing at last– it’s not as hard as some people might think after all.