Monday, August 4, 2014

Oyster Heaven

I googled this picture of oysters but the ones I ate were at least as meaty as these.

I love a hearty serving of fresh meaty oysters, simply blanched in boiling water for a couple of minutes. This also makes it easier to pry these suckers open with a sharp knife (blade should not flex). WARNING! You will probably slice your finger one way or another if you are not extremely careful. Be sure the sharp side of the knife blade is pointed away from any part of your fingers, hands, legs or body when opening oyster shells. Doused with vinegar and onions, you are all set to slurp, slurp, slurp.

Last Saturday (August 2, 2014), my friend, Armand Bernal, invited me to visit his first cousin, Fernando "Pando" Bernal, who lives in Rosario, La Union--about an hour northwest of Rancho Caridad by car. His inducement was . . . fresh oysters. Say no more. It so happens that the younger brother of Pando, Eric Bernal (who lives in Manila), was visiting his brother. So, Armand, who lives in Mocada, Tarlac, was invited for a family reunion of sorts.

Given the extensive coastline of the Philippines, I wonder why fresh high quality meaty oysters are so hard to come by in the Philippines. After surveying the coral reef of Casabangan Bay in Mansalay and learning about its destruction, alongside the destruction of 95% of the coral reefs in the Philippines (alongside the destruction of the 15 million hectares of forest stand in the country--now estimated at less the 2 million hectares, if that; alongside the over-exploitation of the marine resources in the country, which is aggravated by the poaching of endangered species by Chinese fishermen), it all boils down to the overpopulation of ignorant and uneducated people, who just keep taking and taking from the environment without giving back--until the natural environment has nothing more to give. Then, these people turn to the government for subsidy, which the government extorts from taxpayers like me.

Apparently, one can purchase oysters from the public market of Sto. Tomas, La Union. However, they are reportedly run-of-the-mill. The ones delivered to Pando's home, which is located on a two-hectare property in Rosario, La Union (the neighboring town southeast of Sto. Tomas), along the national highway, were oysters grown for home consumption. These were not for sale but given to friends and family on occasion. I was fortunate to partake of these "special" oysters, which were the best I had in all my life. These are grown along the coast of an islet (separated by a sandbar that appears and disappears according to the tide) across the fishhook-shaped bay of Sto. Tomas--see the Google Map below. This counts as one of my treasured discoveries near Racho Caridad.

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