This afternoon I was invited to the Gumbo Cook Off in Downtown Kalamazoo to be a “celebrity” oyster shucker. Now, I use the word “celebrity” loosely, because I don’t consider myself a celebrity. When I’m around my wife, friends, and family it’s different. When I’m around Jamie I tell her I’m the biggest thing to happen to this town, but in reality, I’m just a guy who’s grossly underpaid to make fart and wiener jokes on the radio.
Now, I’ve never shucked an oyster in my life, let alone shucked one as a “celebrity.” It’s actually not as difficult as one might think. I was provided with an apron, gloves, and a special shucking knife. Basically, you use your shucking knife to separate the shells so you can shoot the oyster. So, I take my handy dandy knife, and my gloves saturated in oyster juice and I get to work. The first oyster took me a good 10 minutes to pry apart. The second one not quite 10 minutes, but I was getting a little embarrassed because it was taking me so long to get the shells separated. After my third oyster, I was a freaking pro! I was shucking two or three oysters a minute! What blows is that you hold the oyster in one hand, and pry it open with your other, and the hand holding the oyster gets covered in ice cold oyster juice when the top shell separates, and that juice absorbs into the gloves, which then bathes your hand in smelly, ice cold oyster juice. Kind of like a second date, huh!?
After shucking, I enjoyed a few beers, ate some my freshly shucked oysters, met some people, and then waited for the gumbo cook off to begin. I had one problem with this; the size. Too many people crammed inside two small tents. The food venders were separated into two tents, and you had to force your way in line to get food. There really wasn’t room to look around so you basically had to get the first four or five gumbo samples you can get your hands on and get out of there. The samples I had were delicious, but again, I wish I didn’t have to just grab samples from the first few vendors I saw; I would have liked to looked around more and pick what I thought looked good. Maybe next year they’ll do the event at a larger venue so people are more comfortable and less crowded. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shuck something.