Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Seafood Platter: A Tale of Danger

If you've read through previous posts, then you'll probably have noticed that Fiance and I love food and eating out. A year or so ago, we'd gotten home from work, had a couple of drinks and decided to head out for a spontaneous meal. Within half an hour, we were in a taxi on the way to our local Loch Fyne - which, for anyone who hasn't come across it, is a chain of seafood restaurants throughout the UK.

Electing to continue the consumption of alcohol, we ordered a bottle of white wine to quaff while we perused the menu, so we were heading towards tipsy as we honed in on our food-based decisions. It was the tipsiness that led to my confident suggestion that we should try the seafood platter - a selection of clams, mussels, oysters, langoustines and crab. It sounded amazing to my slightly addled mind, I love shellfish and was more than ready to eat my first oyster - I have seen tens of people knocking them back in pure delight on various TV shows and I was confident that I would join their ranks and be a natural at swallowing whole oysters whilst enjoying the whole experience.

Fiance selected an oyster and elegantly swallowed it, the effortless manner in which he proceeded filling me with confidence as I reached for one of my own and chucked it into my open mouth. I was convinced that for me too, nothing but the most sophisticated of swallows would happen.

It did not. Sadly, the oyster I had chosen was somewhat larger than Fiance's, and as a result, my throat was entirely unwilling to let it slip down my gullet in one piece, which left me with a rather unpleasant salty lump of flesh in my mouth. I had started to panic a little by this point, and without me expressly ordering such an action, my mouth began to chew on the oyster - a mistake of epic proportions. I instantly started to retch as the salt water found its way down my throat and the chewy-jelly texture of the damn thing sat obstinately on my tongue.

Now, I don't know if you've ever tried to heave silently and calmly to maintain an air of composure whilst in a seafood restaurant, but for the uninitiated, I can confirm that it isn't a particularly easy, or enjoyable task. It is, however, possible. Mustering willpower on a level I believed I was incapable of, I eventually managed to chew the oyster into submission, and took a few deep breaths as I convinced my body that it really wouldn't be appropriate to vomit whilst sitting at a table in a restaurant. Eventually, a noise that that can only be described as a strangulated hiccup cleared the feeling of nausea from the back of my throat.

While Fiance saw the whole thing happen, and allowed only the smallest hint of amusement to show through his concerned face, the people on the neighbouring table had somehow remained oblivious to my plight. Sadly, the same couldn't be said when we came to sample the crab.

I love crab, but in a lazy way - I usually only come across it after someone else has done the hard work, specifically, after it has been coaxed out of its practically impenetrable shell. The arsenal of weaponry that had been laid on the table shortly before the platter had been delivered had indicated that it might be a little difficult to get much out of the shelled critter, but we were drunk and naive and happy that we could manage it.

Keen to redeem myself after the oyster incident, I picked up a tool that resembled nutcrackers, and tried to begin the fiddly and remarkably difficult routine of separating the body and legs. It took me a long time to not get very far, so I abandoned the original implement in favour of a hammer, which I took to the joints with a drunken enthusiasm. Eventually, I freed a claw, and handed it to Fiance who set about cracking the shell with vigour.

I think the people on the nearest table would say he went about things with too much vigour - after stubbornly refusing to crack for an uncomfortable length of time, the shell finally succumbed to the pressure he exerted on it and gave way with such force that the shards actually reached our fellow diners. There was only one way we could possibly proceed, and so we started giggling. It probably wasn't the most efficient way to show we regretted covering our neighbours in bits of crab.

We did our best to avoid eye contact with our victims for the rest of the evening, but I don't think we got away with being unnoticed this time. We have since given up ordering seafood platters - the amount of effort significantly outweighed the amount of food we actually got to eat, and it is never nice to leave an establishment wondering if they will forever remember us as the Seafood Platter Couple.


  1. I have never tried oysters for the fear of the exact thing happening to me! Now, crab? They stand no chance against my ninja-like shell cracking technique.

  2. If you can handle a crab like a ninja, I bet an oyster would tremble in your presence and throw itself down your throat in a single suave move!