MEATWATCH: Oysters

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Look, we know what you’re thinking: This is by far one of our worst pun-based ideas. But Greg gets real pissy if we don’t let him just go to town roasting something, both literally and figuratively, every thirty days or so. And so we present: MEATWATCH, NOVEMBER 2020 EDITION.

Welcome to MeatWatch

Today, MeatWatch is taking a look at God’s own hot mess, oysters. The correct read on them is that they are horrid, just a rock with snot inside it, and there is no excuse for eating one. However, I was unfairly maligned for that opinion in Goonhammer chat, even though I’m inarguably correct, because some of the people I work with are savages and adhere to the type of diet that I wouldn’t give to Swamp Thing’s dog. Oysters also cost like three bucks each at the restaurant, which is ridiculous, considering that your own body produces boogers for free. You shouldn’t eat those either, but if you were going to, I mean, at least save a few bucks, you know?

But the worst oyster opinion I have ever seen – and you’re going to see a lot of bad ones in the roundtable below –  is that you can eat them and remain vegan, which is something some people think, I guess? The Goonhammer offices lost their minds over this one – just like any time we try to talk about anything – and everyone kept hurling insults despite fundamental agreement, just nobody could shut up about it because we all have The Poster’s Brain. 

The logic here is that, based on “research” (or, “making up lies and editing them into Wikipedia before citing that as your source”), oysters may actually lack the physiological ability to feel pain. I’m not sure I buy that one but, so the Post goes, this makes oysters a moral freebie, where it’s OK to cut them in half and suck out their juicy guts – despite them almost certainly meeting the basic definition of  “alive” – because they’re closer to a plant made out of meat than an animal. That doesn’t seem right to me! Personally I think they’re neither vegan nor not-vegan, because they aren’t technically food. Is it vegan if you eat glass? I don’t know! The other justification is that, like most pests, the absence of oysters doesn’t impact the environment when you kill them and, like a tree falling in the woods, murder is a victimless crime as long as nobody notices. I also don’t like what this says about vegans, that they’re so hard-up for new types of food to eat that oysters are the hill they’re willing to die on. Must be hard times at the ethical eating factory.

It’s probably fine to eat oysters as a vegan – by which I mean it’s not any worse or more ill-advised that it would be for anyone else to eat them, because they’re still puke – but maybe just keep your head down and slurp those bad boys without calling attention to your apostate bullshit. The internet has a lot of bad tendencies, and they’ve crystalized in a way where the dominant model for content is now showing your whole ass, knowing you’re going to get dunked on, but not caring because it’s still clicks and engagements, but then not actually getting the ad impressions because your entire audience either run adblock or do all their reading via retweets of screenshots. What’s the point of any of this? And yes, I am aware of the irony of making that statement, here, in this exact post.

I threw some questions out to the wider Goonhammer collective, to see how our authors and contributors felt about oysters, how they fit into the current meat-meta, and what you can do to get the most out of your plate. As usual most of them were a disappointment, but at least it wasn’t the usual teeth-pulling experience of trying to get people to contribute to HTPEs and Roundtables.

Oysters: How are they faring in the current meta?

Greg: Not looking great for them, to be honest. Yields are down year-over-year due to overfishing and they just aren’t the big winner they used to be. In some ways this is actually good for the meta, because if we dredge them all up and throw them away, there won’t be any more ever again, which would be cool. A major vulnerability that all oysters share is that they live in water, and that’s where pollution goes.

Rob: “Wild oysters are endangered” I hear you cry, as I unhinge my jaw and slug back two dozen farm-raised slime rocks without chewing. Checkmate, vegans

Condit: This one raw bar I used to go to had a plate full of oysters on the half shell, clams, mussels, and shrimp, and it was delicious. The second best part of ordering it (after the oysters, of course) was loudly declaring to anyone within earshot “I will have the Honey Hole.” Very powerful play.

Liam: That delivery guy who gave you shit about your food choices? He was absolutely, unquestionably, right to do so.

Craig: The only time I have ever eaten an oyster was at my last kitchen job. It was the size of a baseball, then an hour later I got food poisoning and did not have to work the rest of that closing shift. I was on salary so I didn’t even lose any money. These rockmeats are incredibly powerful in the right hands.

Fowler: The two locations in which I have consumed the most Oysters have closed and I will die angry about this. Nothing is cool, everything sucks, trade Brady. 

Kevin: Oysters are crabs that are too lazy to get out and do something with their lives. They’re basically the vacuum cleaners of the undersea world. They’re exactly where they should be; on the very bottom, in the muck. Or farm bred and on the half shell sitting in front of me waiting to be consumed along with some local beer. Either is fine.

Thundercloud: I’m not a fan and haven’t personally consumed them myself, but Thunderwife will have them raw when we’re at the Fish market buying things that are still alive and will inevitably lose a rather one sided battle when they get back to our kitchen. I’m always concerned she’ll get food poisoning, but she seems to be able to eat anything while I am now unable to pack away sprout vindaloo or whatever like I could when I was a student. This is also how I found out crabs don’t like having ginger shoved up their buttholes, which, to be fair, I wouldn’t want either. 

Soggy: I’ve never seen Oysters in my local meta and I’m not really a fan of the models. If they start doing well, maybe I’ll give a netlist a go.

Gunum: As a Vegetarian, I find Oysters to have an oppressive place in the meta right now. Not only are they expensive in points in most places, but they are also able to produce MUCH rarer units in a transport compacity. Clearly need a bit of a nerf.

Pendulin: My local meta is all about the seafood, unfortunately a lot of players around here are terrible at prepping for a game. The result of this subpar home-brew setting is that my opinion of oysters dropped from top-tier to below trash-tier. For the longest time I hated oysters, until I realized it was actually the other players I hated. You know what they say, don’t change the player, change the game. And once I saw the sheer power of an oyster in a professional-level setting, it was game changing.

Dan: There is nothing better in this world than devouring dozens of oysters with your friends and loved ones at a raw bar, all while tossing back ice cold beer after ice cold beer. It is fitting that for humanity, it is no longer possible to engage in this, the most purely joyous activity, any longer. I imagine that this will be good for oysters in the short term, but if and when life goes back to normal, I alone might be responsible for their extinction. Sorry in advance.

Condit: Not if I get there first, you won’t.

Rob: Hell yeah. Hey Condit, let’s meet up post-pandemic and crush several dozen oysters

Soggy: Is raw bar some kind of American euphemism?

Craig: Raw bars are where people too cool for Jimmy Buffet but not cool enough for bands that go onstage after 9 pm go to listen to blues music.

Liam: The main thing to remember is that oysters can fight on death, and will do so by spending 2CP to obliterate your asshole.

Dan: You Brits must have low Constitution scores or something.

PierreTheMime: I’m thankful the point increase has reduced the oysters you have to field, it’s made painting them so much quicker. Their new weapon options are good, but I’m bothered that they’re only sold in clam packs.

James: Well that depends on how far we’re talking. No one from my hometown has seen an ocean so I can say for certain there are no Friday Oyster Frys.

Raf: Thanks for asking Greg! Overall, I think Oysters are doing great in the meta. With the exception of one game I had in New Orleans where I missed 3 days of a work conference due to my opponent’s aggressive use of the You Should Have Smelled Those First! Stratagem, I’ve found all my games involving Oysters to be enjoyable. You can just really tuck into the new missions with these guys.

Kenji: Echoing a few of the opinions above, I think the Vibrio Vulnificus ability certainly makes their fight on death strategy even better. There are few units in the meta that can, up to a day later, critically injure or even kill their opponent. I know that if I were given the choice, I would avoid even looking at a raw oyster.

Custom Tyranid Hive Ship. Credit: Jean-Luc Martel

Oysters: What are some winning builds?

Greg: The main way I see them done here is a trash can lid full of ice, and then Oysters dropped on top of it, with a bit of lemon to the side. It seems to work, but the local scene is so crab-heavy that it’s rare to see oysters in many events at all.

Rob: Look, I don’t know how they do things in your shitty Chesapeake Bay meta, but here it’s all about the oysters-and-champagne meta. Pair a couple dozen raw Hog Island oysters with a bottle or two of Moet Chandon from right down the road and that’ll put in work. Just put some lemon juice and horseradish on those bad boys before you slurp them down.

Condit: Okay, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 oyster, raw on the half shell
  • 1 shot glass
  • 1 pint glass
  • 1 shit beer (Natty Boh, if you can find it)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Cocktail sauce to taste
  • Some old bay

Your strat here is to rim the pint glass with Old Bay, then pour the terrible beer into it until it’s 50%-60% full. Then, remove the oyster from the shell, put it in the shot glass, and top it with cocktail sauce and a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Drop that shit in the pint glass like a bomb and chug it.

This is a 100% guaranteed championship strategy, and I will not be taking questions at this or any other time.

Greg: This is just drinking a beer but you added extra steps. I was hoping for more of a mono-faction oyster dish.

Craig: I’ve not tried it personally, but you can in fact prepare oysters in a chowder. This would be nice because you can make fun of the New England accent and remember that Simpsons episode. This momentary escape into nostalgia would be a great addition to any meal, before you have to get up from the table and remember you’re not a child in 1994 anymore.

Kevin: I’m a big fan of pan frying. The secret is to get as much moisture out of them as possible before serving; they’ll shrink up really well and have a ton of flavor. Separate the bunches, cut off the hard bits, and pan fry over medium-high heat in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Give it 3-5 minutes, toss lightly, and then hit it for another 3-5 minutes until brown and looking amazing. Then add some butter, garlic, rosemary, and thyme and cook for another 5 minutes while spooning the butter over. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wait, we’re talking about oyster mushrooms, right?

Dan: This is an excellent recipe, but a terrible joke.

Pendulin: Go to your favorite local fancy restaurant, and order one that one oyster dish you see popping up on Instagram. It’ll be plenty tasty, come on. ‘gram don’t lie.

Fowler: GET IN, LOSERS. WE’RE GOING NEW ENGLANDING. Drag a net along the bottom of the ocean, remove any hard or sharp parts, fry it into oblivion, and serve a hillock of it in a wood-paneled room surrounded by lobster traps and yellow-jacketed fisherman statues. Try not to think about the two chapters of Callum Roberts’ The Unnatural History of the Sea that describe how incredible the ocean was before we ate everything in it.

Rob: The Boston poster has logged on. Don’t forget to wash that shit down with an entire pot of DUNKS.

Dan: While I am a fan of the raw bar, the fact is that the New Orleans meta has it correct. There, they take the oyster, shuck it, and put it on the grill where they add delicious herb and garlic compound butter. The New Orleanians grill those suckers right there in the shell, until the oyster is just barely cooked through and the compound butter is bubbly, garlicky, and completely delicious. The more refined citizens of New Orleans will pair this amazingly decadent dish with white wine or a cocktail on ice, but me? I’d rather chug some ice cold Dixie Light en masse, as you could say if you were fixin’ to. I would put this preparation up against anything anyone else can come up with, dear reader, and we’ll see who gets to the clean shell club quickest.

James: I see all the coastal elites have weighed in on their fancy half shell shooters and named slimes, but let’s talk about the down home midwest meta. The real heartland with real hearty food. Christmas in Wisconsin just isn’t the same if you’re not slamming pounds of butter and milk into a pot, adding a couple of oysters, and before you know it, baby you got a stew going. Add loads of hexagon-shaped crackers to taste and pretend like you’ve done anything but gained 3 pounds before dinner. 

Greg: The midwest has the most messed-up food culture on earth and I genuinely wish you guys would just eat at Applebee’s and stop trying to come up with ideas.

Gunum: As a proud resident of the Best Dakota, I feel like I need to stand up for our Tater-Tot hot dishes and the Lefse of our ancestors. Sadly, I can’t really bring myself to say anything powerful on this subject because Lefse is -not great- and TTHD is a spiceless monster that I now actively avoid eating… Okay, maybe Greg has a point here.

PierreTheMime: Oysters were much better last edition in this regard, as they worked so well in soups.

Raf: Wow! I think we can all agree that Oysters have never had so many viable builds! Truly we’re in the golden age of seafood. Whether you’re frying them up for po’ boys or allying in a mignonette, they’re just so versatile right now. As someone who owns a shucking knife and kevlar gloves (safety first) I’ve got to say my favorite build is an Oyster shooter:

  • Oyster
  • Quail Egg
  • Scallions
  • Tobiko
  • Ponzu Sauce
  • Cold Sake

Serve in a tall shot glass. It’s like what Condit described, only for those with a little more self respect. I’ve perfected these over 6 iterations and I don’t think they could be better.

Kenji: I want to avoid being “that person” but my general build is to just ensure that I Will Not Eat the Oysters, but if I am stuck on secondaries, anything involving a deep fryer and some home-made cocktail or tartar sauce will get the job done.

Evan: While oysters don’t take quite as well to souping as some MEQs (mollusk equivalents) I do think they work best with a splash of other factions. You can take hot oil and breading without breaking most of your faction traits, and I highly recommend doing so as it makes up for one of the oyster’s biggest weaknesses, namely having the texture of briney snot. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you’re not a real oyster player for doing this. They’re bad and wrong.

Tyranid Ripper Swarms

Tyranid Ripper Swarms. Credit: That Gobbo

Oysters: What’s the best sub-faction?

Greg: I still won’t eat them, because crab is right there, but I gotta rep the hometown hero, the Chesapeake Bay oyster, here. Oysters get so gross by eating industrial waste and farm runoff, and the Chesapeake is lousy with both, so the ones here are, if not the best oysters, at least the oyster-est oysters.

Kevin: There are some really solid farm raised options around the Chesapeake that I’d go for. Oysters and crabs are the perfect complement to each other. Oysters have little meat for almost no effort, while crabs have little meat for tons of effort and pain. Either way you’ll still be hungry.

Condit: I tend to prefer East coast oysters over West coast because I actually prefer the brine flavor because my tongue has been malfunctioning for the last 30-odd years. I tend to gravitate to ones from Prince Edward Island as I find that saying you’ll have “the P.E.I.” sounds appropriately inscrutable to the uninitiated who are still recovering from the shock of seeing you actually voluntarily ask for the raw bar menu.

Rob: Blue Point Oysters from NY absolutely whip ass. No, I don’t care that they’re actually farmed in Connecticut. Don’t @ me.

Craig: Are clams oysters? No? Those crackers old people put in soup are technically oysters, so I guess those.

Fowler: Island Creek, Duxbury Massachusetts. Just briny enough to give you a preview of our mother ocean inevitably reclaiming the land.  

Dan: People who have opinions about what kind of oyster is best can go get in the fucking sea with the oysters.

Condit: Don’t threaten me with a good time.

Pendulin: Excuse me Dan, I only eat the highest quality slime rocks with butter spice.

James: Let’s be honest, with enough milk and butter all oysters taste the same. Delicious.

Liam: Just incredible that the guy from Wisconsin thinks the answer to everything is ‘more milk and butter.’

Greg: James, what the fuck.

Gunum: What the actual fuck.

Dan: Doesn’t oyster mean something different for y’all?

Rob: Yeah in the UK an oyster is someone who – hilariously – clams up. Brit slang, y’all

Craig: 70’s nostalgia has got to be coming back at some point, so you can try to get in early with the Blue Öyster Cult. 

James: Seasons won’t fear the reaper but after shoveling a mound of raw oysters you might. 

Raf: Thanks for asking this Greg! While my favorites are Kumamotos and anything from Hog Island, as long as they’re fresh you can’t go wrong! I cannot stress enough how imperative it is to have fresh enough oysters. Seriously, there are some tell-tale signs that I could explain, but inexplicably won’t!

Kenji: While I always try to rep my hometown, like almost everything else related to Florida, our oyster subfaction, the Apalachicola Oyster, just makes me sad.

Evan: I’m surprised that in all this talk of midwest oysters, nobody has mentioned the most midwest of oysters, the rocky mountain oyster. It is by no means the best or even an ok subfaction, but I feel the need to remind everyone that they exist.

Credit: BuffaloChicken

Oysters: What changes would they need to be able to truly compete? 

Greg: This is actually an easy one, total softball. They need to not be so wet. Frying would help, because frying makes just about anything better.

Condit: No changes, they’re already top tier. If anything, more food should be served raw and in a container fashioned from its own corpse. The real change that is necessary here is that apparently Greg needs to report to the Goonhammer labs so that we can reprogram his taste buds. I can’t believe we let such a blatant error get through QA.

Rob: Greg has forever had bad ideas about seafood. Just the worst.

Craig: That weird plate of ice they are served on needs to have some other purpose. The ice is so pretty, but you can’t eat it. That’s a lot of valuable real estate that can be filled with a more well rounded, general purpose food.

Greg: You absolutely can eat the ice, unless you’re some kind of coward.

Rob: Oyster problems are mostly problems of marketing. Half of people don’t know that oysters are even alive and the rest are like “I’m gonna eat what now” because oysters are basically like “what if a rock grew a dick it used to move around the ocean with, how about I just slurp that thing down raw or with some cocktail sauce why not”

Pendulin: If you think an oyster is what happens when a rock grows a dick, then don’t search for images of geoducks.

Kevin: They would need to be crustaceans. 

Gunum: They are made by Mother Nature themselves to be armored transports for some of the most sought-after gems in the game of life. When these things are introduced to the game, people literally dig-into them for the unit they transport. How to make them competitive? Give them a gun nature. HMO: Oyster Guns

Fowler: This edition has killed the dollar oyster and brought about a depressing, pay-to-win, marine-focused meta. 

Kenji: I’d prefer if a FAQ would perhaps lower the chance of oysters killing me randomly when ingested, but maybe that’s a Hammer of Math article for another day.

Dan: Oysters are a little over-costed. I’d like to see them come down a bit in price. I think you’d see them on a lot more tables if that were the case.

James: We all know oysters like to just hoover up shit and I can’t think of better shitwater than the Milwaukee and Sheboygan coasts – really I think they just need to get their freshwater game straightened out. That slight tweak and I think they’re ready to crush the scene.

PierreTheMime: I think a few tweaks here and there and they could really be a contender. They work well with other factions, but alone they can be a little underwhelming without some tricks. If you really just want to get some Oyster play in they can be really quick to get to the table raw, but obviously it’s a bit of a gamble and you have a chance of shitting the bed.

Thanks but no thanks for your worthless input, everyone who thinks oysters are good, you can all go straight to hell. Everyone else, you did great and I appreciate your efforts in making this column the best it can be. You are providing a public service to the community. Readers, if you have questions about how this ignoble bivalve fits into the modern meta, let us know at contact@goonhammer.com, or right here in the comments. We are here to help.

 

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