I wasn’t able to get down there, but Rick was eager to volunteer to go in my place to say happy holidays to the team and thank them for another year of outstanding work (and, of course, to eat what seems to have been a significant quantity of fried oysters!) He took these pictures.
I’ve been struck again and again since we arrived at the prevalence of oysters in Virginia cuisine. Driving along the highways here you see numerous gas stations selling oysters. Ask people about their stuffing recipes and they mostly involve oysters. Theresa McNabb in the business office tells me that her family’s custom is to have oyster stew for breakfast on Christmas day. At the Physical Plant feast they coat the oysters in corn meal and flour and fry them until they’re crispy. . .
We haven’t incorporated oysters yet into our own personal holiday food traditions, which include my mother’s cornbread stuffing, what we call “Rick’s Christmas hummus” (extra thick, extra garlic), and for breakfast the scrapple that my son grew up with during our Philadelphia years. And, of course, as I shared with you last year, my grandmother’s hoppin’ john for New Year’s! But I suspect that by next year I will have found an oyster recipe for the holidays that I want to try and that might well find a permanent place in our family’s traditions.
What a lovely thing it is, that places have distinctive food traditions, and what a lovely thing it is that as we move from place to place we can both carry them with us and acquire new ones along the way. Whatever holidays you are celebrating, whatever midwinter traditions mark the turning of the year for you, whatever people and places you honor in your celebrations, enjoy!