About a month ago I saw that #MKEFoodies was having their first event of 2012 at Harbor House on Lake Michigan. I got excited to see everyone that I hadn’t seen since before Christmas, so I logged in and RSVP’d without reading anything about the event. A while passed and I started seeing postings about the #MKEFoodies event and OysterFest. Ummmmm……..I certainly hoped that wasn’t the event I RSVD’d for because there was no way I was coming anywhere close to one of those slimy things. I squinted my eyes and clicked on the link…….sure enough, I was signed up to attend OysterFest! Great…..Now What?!?!
I voiced my concern to several people who are close enough to me to know about my picky eating habits. I wasn’t happy to realize that I wasn’t going to get any support in my attempt to back out of the event. I have to admit that I was experiencing some anxiety about the whole thing. My picky eating habits don’t really have to do with taste, as much as they do with texture. I can eat something that tastes bad with no problem, but give me something with a weird texture and I am out. And, I was pretty sure Oysters where going to fit into that category.
I voiced my concern publicly on Facebook and Twitter hoping for some reassurance over my Oyster eating anxiety. Most people’s response was, “Don’t worry about it, just swallow it whole the first time”. Yeah….that is my problem. I can’t even swallow a vitamin without it being a big production. How in the world am I going to swallow a whole oyster. So, I let people know that I wasn’t concerned with the flavor as much as I was with the consistency. And, the response was usually, “Oh, yeah, well they are pretty slimy and gross. Just put some lemon on it”. Great…..Thnx!!
My #MKEFoodies friend, Lori, was even nice enough to forward me an article written by Jan Uebleherr of the Journal Sentinel about the popularity of Oysters in Milwaukee and tips to beginner oyster eaters. I immediately focused on the sentence “”Most die in the shucking process,” Espinosa said. “I’m sure any movement is involuntary, or a spasm of sorts. There are times when we shuck the oyster and you touch the outer ridge, and it’ll pull back and retract.” and “”Some people can’t get past the texture,” Espinosa conceded.” That certainly didn’t help!!
I went back and forth for week about whether I was going to attend and give them a try. Looking for support anywhere I could find it. When I finally talked myself into the possibility of actually putting one of those slimy little things in my mouth, I decided to start this blog. If I am going to step out of my food comfort zone and make eating an Adventure rather than a necessity, I might as well share it with the world.
I went to the the Harbor House with a plan: Find the smallest oyster I could find, cover it with lemon and sauce, have a fork ready to make sure it wasn’t stuck, turn my back to everyone, cover my mouth with a napkin and go for it. Of course, you know that isn’t how it happened. I went over to the raw bar for a shucking demonstration with a large group. When the demonstration was over, they passed around a plate of raw, freshly shucked oyster, “In the Nude” as Joe would say. I turned to run, and was blocked my a group of my favorite Foodie friends encouraging me to “Just do it”. So I did. I grabbed the smallest oyster on the plate, assured it wasn’t stuck to the shell, opened my mouth and down it went.
I would lie if I didn’t admit I was pretty proud of myself, and even a bit excited. I stepped further out of my food comfort zone than I even had before…..and I didn’t die, or gag, or whatever else I thought was going to happen. I figured, “I got this”, let’s order a whole tray.
I am proud to say, that night I ate 3 oysters (two of which had lemon and sauce), 2 tiny pieces of breaded calamari, and 4 peel and eat shrimp. All of which I would have never considered coming close to just a few hours earlier. A big Thank You goes out to Bartolotta’s Harbor House . For sponsoring the #MKEFoodies event and giving me the opportunity to try foods I may have never had the courage to order from the menu on my own. To all of my friends who stood by me while I swallowed that first oyster, knowing there was a possibility that I was going to spit it right back out on them. And, to everyone to Congratulated me afterwards.
Bring on the next Adventure!!