Every year about this time I start getting really homesick for my hometown, Charleston, SC. I think it has something to do with the fact that usually by this time I have been subjected to the cold and ice of Missouri and now England for an extended amount of time and I am wishing for the 65-75 degree weather that Charleston is usually experiencing by now. Anyways, I usually pull out one of my many cookbooks that have flavors from home and whip me up some comfort food. This time however I think I will share one of my favorite Lowcountry (a region of SC/GA) traditions with you. It is called an Oyster Roast. It is usually held in the winter time when the Oysters are in season and always held in a good friends backyard. There of course are some supplies you need for a good Oyster Roast:
A couple of cases of domestic beer (there will be plenty of people to drink it and they will also propbably bring some of their own as well)
1-2 bushels of Oysters
1 fire- usually in a good fire pit in the ground.
1 metal grate that the Oysters won't fall through when they are cooking.
1 water hose to wash off the oyters (oh and for fire control, for reason see supply #1)
2 burlap sacks
1 homemade wood table made by taking a sheet of wood cutting a hole in the center and placing a large barrel underneath hole to catch empty oyster shells.
10+ good friends
To have a proper oyster roast, you make your table a couple days before hand. There is no need to have a bunch of drunks trying to assemble a table the day of the roast. Then you dig your pit for the fire (maybe line it with rocks to contain fire). The day of the roast you start your fire kind of early to make sure the wood is burning nice and hot and you have plenty of embers to roast you oysters on. Next you crack open a beer and encourage your friends to do the same. Then you rinse off the oysters. Next you place the metal grate over the fire to cook your oysters. Then you shovel a load of oysters on top of the metal grate. Soak your burlap sacks with water and then lay them over the oysters, this allows the oysters to steam open. Once the oysters are all steamed open you shovel them off the grate onto the wooden table. Using a gardening glove to grasp the oyster, pry open and enjoy with or without hot sauce and with a beer. Repeat, tossing oyster shells into the handy hole in the middle of the table. Enjoy next beer while waiting for more oysters to arrive on the table and socialize.
Even people who don't enjoy oysters have a great time at an oyster roast because their are plenty of other items to be ate (because no southerner arrives at someones house for a party without bringing a dish to share at the party) and plenty of good conversation to be had. It is an all around good time. So if you are ever in the Lowcountry and you get invited to an Oyster Roast, even if shellfish aren't your thing, go. It is a fun thing and a cultural event in my neck of the woods. Oh and bring a designated driver.