On most days Jim and I begin with a discussion about food. It typically begins with, “what random concoction is our baby going to have for breakfast?” and finishes with, “what’s for dinner?”. As most of you know by now, what to eat is not a simple question for us. It involves sources, places, people, farms and often has to integrate with our random cravings. On this past Wednesday morning Jim wanted home-made pizza (spelt flour and “00” crust). We decided on two pizzas: kale gorgonzola and mozzarella with roasted garlic. I threw in the curveball and wanted raw oysters.
East Coast oysters this time of year, check. Mignonette, check. I began the ritual of opening the oysters, damp briny towel in left hand, old school wooden handled “who’s grandfather did we get this from” oyster shucker in my right. Three oysters down, three to go. Ella Fitzgerald playing, white burgundy poured, baby sleeping. Oyster Number Four: a revelation. Within the oyster was a baby crab. It looked like it had been in there for quite some time…in the molting stage but really, I think the shell had disintegrated. What was left was a living, pulsing creature, trying really hard to figure out where it was and how it had gotten there. We could see the internal structure of it, orange lobes pulsing. It was the size of my thumbnail, we wondered how far it had traveled.
It was at this point that all dinner came to a screeching halt. The music zapped off as if a villain had entered the room and the kitchen, encompassed by just the two of us, fell silent. “What should we do?”, I asked cautiously.
“We should save him”, said Jim amongst a gulp of wine, realizing that dinner was going to be post-poned until Thursday.
And save him we did. It took about an hour to come up with right concoction of home-made sea water: maldon salt, filtered water, kombu and yes, a bit of oyster in case he got hungry (there went my oysters). We decided that we would take him to the sea as soon as possible. He slept overnight in his new home.
The next morning, Jim thought it best to drive him to a private beach where the water currents weren’t so rough. I picked a patch with low seagull count. We let him go, alive and well.
We are not just chefs. We intrinsically care about what we eat, what we cook, what we serve and at the end of the day, the lives of the animals and people who are affected by all of our actions.
” A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.”