Friday, September 11, 2009

Scraps from the back of the Penguin Hall Closet

It was well past the hour when sensible people should be out, Mrs. Hall remembers. Checking the bottom of the third (or was it fourth?) bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for the dregs, and sitting back contentedly, she remarked that although she felt the drink was inferior to begin with, such were the subtleties of the wine that after just one or two bottles it had improved immeasurably. It was a chummy little band; they had just consumed considerable amounts of naked oysters, and several disguised as Rockefellers and the glow of the fireplace and companionship had warmed their souls and loosed their tongues. Unka Knubby, in the corner, rousted himself from his reveries and wondered aloud how it was that folks began eating these delicacies. Funny you should ask, said Mrs. H. I've done some research recently and it's quite a story. And so she began to relate...

"The Mysterious Origins of Ingesting Oysters Revealed*"

"The sun beat down on an ancient and dissolute Norman one day, who spied an approaching Gaul; and having used up all his meager repertoire of amusement early on, and being a Norman of No Small Repute, he slung a worthy and opprobrious remark impugning the Gaul's manhood. The Gaul took the bait admirably, and marching squarely up to the Norman, demanded he name the challenge that would settle the score. The Norman, looking about and laying eyes on a fishing boat close at hand, reached into a nearby bucket of sludgy dredges and discards of a day's work and pulled forth an oyster. 'I dare you to eat what lies within,' he demanded."
"The Gaul replied, 'I'll not recede, but happily eat the phloem of this bivalve', and with a mild shudder, swallowed the snot in a shell. He closed his eyes, fighting the urge to reel; then, not being half the idiot he looked, opened his eyes and rolling them back in what feeble Gaulic lasses usually interpreted as rapture, said, 'What serendipitous slander on the part of this Norman has led me to find such ambrosia? This is the puddin' of the Gods!' The Norman, not one to miss a culinary cue, plunged his hand into the bucket for another, scrambled to open the ragged shell and slipping the slimy contents down his throat, broke into a craggy semblance of delight himself."
"The two, now smug and warm in the glow of a friendship based on mutual boondogglery, embraced; rambling forth to a cozy pub to share a cup and spread their mischief. Thus, the myth of oysters as exquisite comestibles was born."
*(Ed. note: some of the old timers from Penguin Hall may remember this from about 12 years ago; the editors at PHM thought perhaps they may like hearing it again.)

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