M.F.K. Fisher wrote this conversational treatise -if that is not a contradiction in terms- about oysters in 1941. But its inviting tone, good humor, and charming anecdotes have not diminished. Fisher was adventurous and uninhibited in her enjoyment of food, and her admiration for the oyster is infectious. She explains the life cycle of the oyster poetically and sympathetically before proceeding to discuss diverse aspects of oyster cuisine, including a chapter on oyster stew and another on oyster soup (not to be confused!), bad oysters, oysters as flavoring, parasites and pearls, and various ways to prepare oysters, with recipes, of course.
There are about 25 recipes in "Consider the Oyster" from the mundane to the eccentric, some that were quaintly outdated at the time of writing and some that were very fashionable. Fisher has found a recipe for Oyster Loaf comparable to one from her mother's schooldays in the 1890s. She also unearthed a recipe for homemade Butter Crackers from the same era, which might be an improvement over modern "oyster crackers". There are recipes for oysters grilled, roasted, fried, and baked, Oysters Rockefeller, oyster stuffing, oyster catsup, and Hang Town Fry, which is fried oysters in an egg pancake. Some are curiosities, others inspiration to the adventurous cook.
The prose is witty, literate, and friendly. M.F.K. Fisher was a talented essayist who didn't take herself too seriously. She regales the reader with stories, opinions, trivia, and lore as if we were favorite guests at her dinner table. Her humor and genuineness are always entertaining and enjoyable. Although some of the references are dated, they are no less interesting for their age. "Consider the Oyster" is a lot of fun for oyster lovers, short, easy to digest (as they say), and evidence of just how modern and how traditional oysters can be.