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I had a bit of a setback today as I cut my hand while shucking fresh oysters. The modern way to shuck the things is to use a towel. When I was 8 years old, I worked in a German Restaurant in Baltimore where oysters on the half shell were on the menu. I was issued a lapboard with a vee shaped holding dam and a one inch hole in the center for the actual shucking. A bucket caught the results. Prior to sitting down for work, each of the shuckers was given a bushel of oysters to separate and clean. If business was brisk, additional bushels would be cleaned and separated as the evening wore on.
When we would go to Market for the Thanksgiving feast, mom would yell out “Butch, make sure that your father does not get the dead oysters – they are horrid!” (Butch was the my family name as I was named after Dad who never could learn to shuck an oyster or clean crustaceans or fish.)
In this modern age, one is encouraged to use a towel to hold the oyster during the process. In any case, the place to attack the beast is at the hinge. Here is a video of the modern technique:
I use an oyster board that is based on the design of one that my Grandfather taught me to use in the 40’s. It is the design shown on the right
In either case, the oyster knife is of the same style as was used in the demo video. Back when I was a boy, this was called a Boston Knife. It was very popular in the forty’s and fifty s because the Bay Knife, as in Chesapeake Bay, had a very sharp point and actually was less effective in shucking oysters and led to more as well as more severe wounds. The modern broad shucking knives are next to useless. To make a long story short, I passed on separating the oysters before shucking them today. Not a very good way to start the week, but chicken dressing with fresh shucked oysters is worlds above the same with the long dead ones, even with the “red sauce”.