Smoked oysters have found a home in my heart.
I’ve always swooned for them raw on the half shell, squeezed with lemon and enjoyed in the sunshine with a loved one. I save those moments for special occasions or the rare event I’m eating out when my mom comes to visit.
Nowadays, I open the can, drain off the olive oil, sprinkle them in flaky salt, and with the first bite, I’m transported into umami heaven. With each forkful, I savor the flavor, the nutrition, the delicate way they almost dissolve. I wake up craving them for breakfast in place of pancakes. I could even imagine dipping them in maple, next to a cup of sweet coffee to really get my cells groovin’.
These little creatures are packed with goodness. They contain a variety of vitamins and nutrients including zinc, calcium, magnesium, protein, selenium, and vitamin A. They also contain especially high levels of vitamin B12, notoriously deficient in plant-based diets.
Maintaining adequate levels of zinc is paramount, as “vitamins A and D can only fulfill their functions in the presence of adequate zinc”(1). Furthermore, Vitamins A and D support the absorption of zinc and zinc supports the absorption of all the fat-soluble vitamins, which are critical for immune function, the formation of bones, mood regulation, and proper cell metabolism.
Zinc is found most abundantly in oysters, beef, and cheese: simple foods that are often forgotten or black-listed when it comes to diets intended to heal complex and chronic issues.
Beyond their nutritional bounty, one of the most remarkable facts about oysters is how they change their sex during their lives, starting as males and usually ending as females, depending on how crowded they are. They can change their gender at will, staying flexible and adaptable as the environment demands.
A natural pearl begins when a grain of sand enters the shell of the oyster and decides to irritate it; the oyster skillfully reacts. It begins by covering the irritant with minerals, layer by layer, until the sand is soft, supple, and velvety, no longer a cause of discomfort or annoyance.
As I munch on these conveniently canned and ever so portable delights, I reflect on how the splinters and restrictions of the remarkably painful past few years have transformed into long strings of shiny and playful pearls. My pockets overflow with dark memories that now, beautifully–even gaudily–glisten.
“For thousands of years the Pearl oyster has been there, as a lesson for human beings, but we have never understood it. And what does it teach us? Simply that, if we wrap our difficulties and all that annoy us in a soft, luminous, opalescent matter, we will be very rich indeed. So, from now on, instead of complaining and doing nothing to stop yourself from getting worn down by your difficulties, set to work to secrete this special matter and wrap them up in it.”
-Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
What inconvenience can you start shellacking and softening, start crafting your string of pearls?
Perhaps a torn shoulder ligament prevents you from sleeping comfortably at night. Yet, you’ve started to notice the peacefulness of a quiet house and find time to knit piles of sweaters for your beloved cat while they purr on your lap.
Perhaps you lost your car keys, but your best friend is coming to pick you up from work and drive you the 46-minutes home.
Perhaps your partner of 4 years just ended things because they’re not sure what they want anymore, but now you have a King bed to yourself and every night free to dive into that stack of books in the corner.
Or, maybe it’s been three months since you’ve been able to stand-up without excruciating pain in your back, but you’ve found comfort in a chair by a window that allows you to see the chickadees dance around and chase each other from branch to branch.
How can we be more like an oyster, today, right now? Can a salty snack serve as a gateway to shifting our perception?
Only one way to find out.