At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Saturday, May 07, 2016


Shellfish are not kosher. But that is not why I have largely avoided them for several years. The absence of shellfish in my life is purely because of two factors, of which the main one these days is gout. Gout, marked by podal inflammation, can be brought on by several foods of which I am extremely fond, as well as beer, which I do not mind in moderation late at night once a week.

The three kings of the shellfish realm are lobster, mussel, and oyster. And crab. Four kings. Sorry. Four mighty and immortal kings, whose presence normally brings great pleasure.

All four of them ALSO symbolize venery.

Instead of venery, I have gout.

It's not the same.


Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague
Gift of Sir Henri Deterding, 1936

The first thing I noticed in this painting, I shamefully admit, was the wine jug on the table, which is majolica of a type that later became known as Delft Blue, and which shows typical clobbering, being provided with a lid to keep out the flies. Very common in that era. It was also done to porcelain imported from the Far East, notable Ming Dynasty blue and white, immitation of which led to the development of Dutch ceramics.

[My own pottery and porcelain collection is quite modest; mostly Californian ware, but it does include a few I-Hsing pieces of age and beauty, as well as a censer for the scholar's desk, crackled mustard glaze.
Some green glazes and yellows, plus tea bowls. No blue and white.]

By its juxtaposition, the wine glass also stands out. Containing probably a dry Rhenish white. Only then does the crimson of the woman's sumptuous bathrobe become noticeable.

And there's something goofy about the bread on the platter.
Aside from sponginess and dirt.

The painting above is called "Girl Eating Oysters", but it might as well be "Trot Having Lunch". Because the symbolism is all about sex.

I've always been fond of blue and white pottery and porcelain. Oysters didn't enter my life until my first trip to Paris, and while I found them tasty, I had no clue at the time of their connection to naughty business. Instead, I was frustrated by the unavailability in that most cosmopolitan of cities of anything to smoke other than Gauloises and Gitanes.
For a pipesmoker, it was a bit galling.

[Horrid pun omitted.]

Three things about Paris stood out at the time, in no particular order of precedence they are paintings, food, and moodily beautiful cityscapes.
Museums, many lovely restaurants, and the river Seine.

Plus café au lait, boiled eggs, and Gauloises.

[Why do French eat cold œufs for breakfast?
I haven't the foggiest idea.
They're odd.]

I was at that time blitheringly unaware that shellfish went hand in hand with lascivious stuff, being a teenager of somewhat blinkered perspective, but Paris was worth falling in love with despite being completely blind to the probably abundant opportunities for venery.

In the painting above, we are supposed to immediately draw a guilty link between the girl's calculating glance, the oysters, the flamboyant robe, and the brutalized bread. If that is Steenian porno, it is very subtle.
The one thing I want to touch is the wine jug.
It's a classic piece, quite nice.

As I said, I haven't eaten oysters in several years. But, if charming company were to insist on sharing a plate of steamed oysters (either with chilies and cilantro, OR blackbean sauce and ginger), I should have no objection. I also do a great Oysters Rockefeller, by the way.

I might not associate it immediately with venery, though. My primary focus afterwards would be on dreading any twinges, and hailing a taxi to take us home without me having to hide my podal discomfort.
Surely two or three oysters won't do any harm?


Paris will always be associated with oysters and langouste, Amsterdam with herring and mussels. Where that all intersects is Antwerp.
Which is where all the best seafood can be found.

There's probably venery there too.

I'm almost sure of it.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



  • At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Question said…

    So while you were there, did you smoke Galoises? Did you like them?

  • At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Question said…

    Did you? Were they good?


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