Oysters: the raw and the cooked

We’ll be highlighting a range of dishes over the next few months as we prepare to celebrate Canada’s 150th year. Set sail with us as we plumb the depths of what is Canadian in Canadian Literary Fare.


Gwendolyn MacEwen’s “Sea Things” from, The Armies of the Moon (1972) lends itself well to the theme of fish and seafood we’ve been exploring.

She’s interested in “shellfish and sponges and those/ half-plant half-animal things that go/ flump flump on the sea floor”.


She worries about the oysters, “about how they’re finding their food / or making love, or for that matter / if they have anything to make love with.”

I am less worried about their alimentary and sexual habits. I leave them to figure it out for themselves, self-sufficient creatures that they are.

These days I am more preoccupied with how to choose them, how to open them, how best to prepare and eat them.

“Raw with lemon juice” you will exclaim.


Some of you are of the mignonette persuasion: a little shallot, a little red wine vinegar perhaps?


And some of you cook them, or deep fry them.

In the spirit of diplomacy, I shall not take sides. Out of curiosity, however, I wondered what it would be like to cover them with breadcrumbs (with garlic and parsley, a little Parmesan, and a hint of sriracha) and broil them.

to be broiled

I am happy to report that the oysters cooperated beautifully with nary a word of complaint. All of the more squeamish members of my household were duly satisfied.


Here is an approximate recipe:

For 6 oysters on the half shell

  • 4 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh parmesan
  • ¼ teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients. Spoon over oysters and broil for 5 to 6 minutes.


MacEwen, Gwendolyn. The Armies of the Moon. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1972.

Photos and Text by Alexia Moyer

Kanadian Eggs, Fried Sunny Side Up


This is Gwendolyn MacEwen’s recipe for eggs. And she is adamant that these eggs be Kanadian “not Zeus or Easter Bunny” (31). Why Kanadian eggs? Margaret Atwood, who collected MacEwen’s recipe for The CanLit Foodbook: A Collection of Tasty Literary Fare, provides a helpful editorial note.

This is an “anti-mythological variety of egg, which, however, can cross the line and become a REAL or mythic egg if you can manage to achieve the right frame of mind”(31).

This is a lot to take in before breakfast. I say, eat the egg while it’s hot and then we’ll talk about it.
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