Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Shucked by Erin Byers Murray

I grabbed Shucked off the library shelf because I love me some oysters. I wanted to learn more about oysters and Shucked looked like a good book to do that. Yes and no, but definitely more yes.
Erin is in her 30's, has a good job (an editor for, and a loving husband. Yet Erin feels like she is missing something. One night, Erin meets a man who works for a oyster company. She's intrigued. She decides to investigate leaving her job to become an oyster farmer. And for nearly 2 years, Erin works for Island Creek Oyster company, growing, harvesting, and marketing oysters.
Like Erin, I've had dreams of chucking my job aside. For a time, I wanted to become a carpenter. As part of my job back then, I would put together IKEA-type desks that went to needy families. I got to put the desk together and see a happy family cart it off. Usually one of the children would be so happy to have a space to do homework or color. When the rest of my job didn't see such clear results, the desk building gave me a lot of satisfaction. One day the donor of the magical desks decided to no longer offer the desks and I had no more desks to build. On a drive home after that,  I noticed a handmade wood furniture store. I'd spend hours there, browsing, fantasizing about making wood furniture. One day, I noticed they were hiring. But they were only hiring for sales staff but I finally asked if they ever hired people to build the furniture. My bubble was crushed. The furniture was really made by machine in a factory somewhere. None of it was "handmade". I've since let go of my carpenter dream and refocused my passions elsewhere. But I know tons of people who dream of being cheese makers, dairy farmers, and speciality food store owners. Few actually jump out of the rat race to do it.
Anyway, back to Erin's story. Erin went from "hey I like oysters" to "I know everything about oysters". And I learned a lot while reading Shucked. I learned how oysters grow. I learned that oysters taste sweeter as winter approaches because they are storing glucose for the winter. I learned that where an oyster lives can change the taste of the oyster. Oysters are fascinating little creatures and I'm glad I learned more about them.
Oyster farming is hard work as I imagine all farming is. Erin woke up at 3am and spent twelve hours in the water, either harvesting or "planting" oysters some days. Erin hardly saw her husband and it strained their marriage. I was glad she spent as much time as she did explaining what this adventure did to her marriage, both good and bad. There were parts that were more about Erin and her dealing with this life she choose. I didn't feel like she whined. She did talk a lot about how her body ached, how her skin was swollen from all the water, and how disgustingly dirty she would get from the work. Overall I think she gave up one great job for another. While it was hard work, she seemed to find genuine satisfaction with it.
I enjoyed Shucked. If you fantasize about leaving your corporate, 9-5, cubicle life for one that involves growing anything, pick this up. It might not force to stay at your job but it might give a realistic view of how hard your life might become. Also there are recipes about how to cook and prepare oysters, lobsters, clams, and scallops. Yum!  Others who shared their thoughts on Shucked: The PescoVegetarian Times, International Recipe Syndicate, and Wine Skinny.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

This is my thirteenth  read for Foodies Read 2 Challenge.


  1. Wow. This is new to me and sounds like a fascinating read. Good for Erin for following her passion.

  2. Enjoyed your review of the book. Have a great week.

  3. What a great review- I'm always in awe of people who change their lives.

  4. Intriguing book. I'm always fascinated by radical change in a life.

    Joy's Book Blog

  5. Sounds like an interesting read :) I actually try to live my life by what I believe in, so in that aspect it might be a good one to read one day :)

  6. This sounds good even though I don't like oysters! Looks like you're doing great on your Foodies Read challenge, too.

  7. Talk about following your passion!! I have never tasted an oyster, probably because I think they look so gross. But after reading your thoughts on this book I am realizing that I need to give them a shot. Wish that you could've built furniture and made a living doing it!!

  8. Hi there, the November edition of Books You Loved is now live. Here is the link Books You Loved November Edition Please do pop by and link in a post about a book you loved. Maybe this one? Cheers


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