Sunday, April 26, 2015

Twanoh Oyster Feed

You might get as many reactions to eating oysters as there are religions in the world. There may be no more hedonisticly pleasurable food known to gastronomes.

I've heard that a hedonist is the follower of any ethical system in which some sort of pleasure ranks as the highest good. The Epicurean identifies this pleasure with the practice of virtue. Of course, anything that is pleasurable is, to some, morally suspect. At least, that's how I feel when eating oysters who lived free and filtered clean seawater only yesterday... a mortal eating food intended for gods. I like to loiter around the cook, in the smoke of the hot oiled pan, stealing morsels of the little buggers, raw. If I happen to be the cook well, you'd better get your share while they're too hot to eat, because I already had mine and might eat your share, too.

Add to this, good company on a beautifully inspiring spring day with unparalleled sailing. That would be the Twanoh State Park messabout, and the Puget Sound TSCA. I, for one, could wish everyday to be this good.

The Puget Sound Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association is a heady title for a very down-to-earth group of small boat affectionatoes. You must be a hearty soul to gather in all weather, on the Olympic Peninsula, for fun. Twanoh Park is on the Hood Canal, in the Olympic rain forest. Human denizens of this climate have, for centuries innumerable, grown webbed feet and developed seal skin. The name of the park derives from the First Nation Twana tribes, better known as the Skokomish.

A large portion of the beach at Twanoh is a huge shellfish midden. A midden is, by Middle English definition, a refuse heap. Imagine pre-historic gatherings of humans on a rocky beach, where the tidal current runs strong and clean and the oyster and other mollusks are so plentiful all one must do is sit in the sun on the beach at low tide and eat your fill. Possibly after such a meal, you would be led to ponder why the Greeks are credited with the definition of gastronomia.

It would take years, nay millennia, for people to eat enough oysters to create a landfill of shell, at low tide, to form a peninsula that is high and dry at the most extreme high tide. In such a place, of which there are many still on the Salish Sea, if you repose in a meditative, contemplative posture, you can feel generations of satiated souls at your side. Such is Twanoh, Hood Canal, Salish Sea.

Even if you are not a history buff, or given to prosaic hyperbole, you will enjoy this fine Washington State Park.  The launch ramp is first class, as are the old timber shelters suitable for family gatherings such as this. But if you show up on a weekend toward the end of April, on a blustery day with weather challenges from warm and sunny to gale force rain, while you watch over a plateful of some of the best food you'll ever eat, or test your abilities at reefing and riding a squall, you're at the TSCA Twanoh Oyster Messabout.

A highlight of my year, documented on the Doryman Flickr site. Some photos pilfered from Puget Sound TSCA president Claire Acord. Thank you Claire!


Thanks to old friends and new, for a wonderful day on the water.


robert.ditterich said...

Oh yeah...I love them most fresh, still slightly awash in seawater. A lovely piece of writing MB.

Great pics too.

Simeon said...

Great post of the event. It was a pleasure to finally meet you. I posted on Facebook a link to your DoryMan feed.


doryman said...

Some people don't like the grit, Robert, but a little gravel never hurt anyone. No better sauce than sea water.

Fun day indeed. And thanks Simeon for all your photos and good company (your dock line came in handy).