Savoring Summer- Grilled Oysters with Asian Pepper Relish

Summer Vacation. Grilled Oysters. See, now you’re smiling.

Well, I am smiling too because part of my summer vacation will be spent in Norway. In fact, I am probably halfway there as you read this. At least in my mind. Because so much of summer lives in my mind. Yours too I bet. I am talking about the summers of our youth. They can be magical for all sorts of reasons. Even the torment of youth seems sweeter when lived out in the summer months.

Well, I have asked a talented crew of bloggers to stop by while I am away and tell you a bit about the summers from their childhoods. I can guarantee you delicious stories. So please pop in here regularly and learn just a little bit more about some of the folks out there. I bet in the process you learn a little something about yourself too.

Of course, I can’t ask all these people to open up and share unless I am willing to do it also. So I’ll start the series off with some memories of my youthful summers in Michigan. These were the summers when I was just beginning to find my life and my place in the world. I have probably mentioned some of this before. But when I was a kid I was painfully shy, stick thin and tough as nails. Not a great combination if your main goal in life is enjoying the summer with other kids. You quickly learn that swimming pools and tennis courts fall behind enemy lines. Day camp is deadly. Even the street in front of your house is a battlefield.

Sippity Sup as a "pre-teen"Kids can be cruel. Unsupervised and roaming the neighborhood they can be colossally cruel. Like a wolf pack– on the hunt and in your face. These wolves were particularly focused on me during their rampant summers.

No violins, please. I am stating cold hard facts. I told you I was tough as nails. Skinny gay boys in the 1970s grew tough fast- or bad things happened to them. Rest assured nothing (that) bad ever happened to me. I am not the kind of person who allows that… Now you my have known all of this already. Sometimes I pull this information out when I want to get your attention. But what I say next may surprise you.

I loved summer.

Summer to me was pollywogs and mosquito larvae (I never could tell the difference), kind older brothers of dick-faced classmates, sun up to sun down out of the house– often all alone, but never lonely.

Moms who liked me because I was polite and smart and kinda handsome. The sort of boy from a good family that they wished their daughters yearned for but knew never would. Even a few dads who recognized a bit of themselves in me– not all of the doctors, lawyers and business elite had perfect childhoods you know.

But summer was other things too. Here’s a secret. Come summer, I used to spy on the neighbors. Three doors up the hill. They had a nice house. Nicer than the others, and we lived in a nice neighborhood. But their house wasn’t the same sort of nice. Maybe it was custom. Maybe it was designed with and was not just built to have all the amenities. Maybe their landscaping was better. Maybe they just knew how to live.

Because summers at their house were the summers I remember most from that time. The summers I still try to recreate. They are easy for me to remember. You see sometimes I’d actually be invited into the yard (nobody else in my family ever was, which made it feel special). But sometimes they had “grown up parties” and I was forced to watch from the hedge or way up high in a willow tree. A lot can be learned from a tree branch.

Because I was fascinated with their life, I mean they had oysters on the grill in 1976. Oysters on the grill in 1976?

Grilled Oysters

My mom was an incredible cook. But we never had Grilled Oysters in 1976. Sure this was suburbia- affluent suburbia, even. But really, mostly middle-class values. Who were these people? Where did they get oysters in Michigan… in summer?

Of course, there was all the regular summer stuff too. Kick the can, road-trips with my family, forts– even a few close friends. But it was when I’d roam the fields behind my school all by myself and think about stuff that summer really came alive. That’s when I’d think about the neighbors and oysters on the grill. I am pre-pubescent. Is that clear? These are not the thoughts of most of the boys who roamed our streets.

So how do I get back to explaining that all this mess made for perfect summer memories? Well, the most direct route is simplest. It made me who I am. I love who I am. I love my life. I love my Ken. And I love my family, though they are so different from me in so many ways.

Summer may have been a time when I was punched in the gut more times than I care to recall. A time when my own mother made me take my shirt off in front of the bigger bolder boys. While at the same time teaching me to love fancy French food. It was hard to understand how the two could be acceptable to her.

But three doors up the hill there was a place I fit in, no matter how private or misunderstood. Because these parties showed me that there was a future for me. It’s where I got to watch the Pucci-clad harbingers of my future laugh and love and live their life. They seemed golden to me and I did a lot of that watching from the bushes, or quietly at the edges of the party. But eventually– much later in life, I came out of the bushes. And today, it just isn’t summer without oysters on the grill. Screw the “R” month rule, my neighbors never gave it a thought.

grilled oystersSpicy Grilled Oysters with Asian Pepper Relish

makes 12 CLICK here for a printable recipe

Please welcome the following writers (plus a few surprises still percolating). GREG


June 10 Greg Sippity Sup

June 12 Pamela My Man’s Belly

June 14 Mardi eat. live. travel. write.

June 16 Steve Oui, Chef

June 18 Jean Lemons and Anchovies

June 20 Adair Lentil Breakdown

June 22 Amelia Z Tasty Life

June 24 Louise Satisfied

June 26 Chris Nibble Me This

June 28 Gwen Bunky Cooks

June 30 Lana Bibberche

July 2 Trevor Sis Boom Blog

July 4 Gisele Pain Perdu Blog

My memories involve Grilled Oysters