My first food memory

Rosita Boland, feature writer

 Rosita Boland pictured on her third birthday with a whole lobster (and her You Are 3 badge)

Rosita Boland pictured on her third birthday with a whole lobster (and her You Are 3 badge)


My first clear memory is of my third birthday, holding a tray with a dead red lobster on it, grinning to camera. I recognise that grin. I still make it, every time I see lobster on the menu, or crab or oysters; all shellfish I grew up eating in the west of Ireland as a child, and still love to eat.

But what I loved best then, and now, were oysters. I loved the ritual of the prehistoric-looking, seemingly impenetrable shells being levered open. Each oyster was as magical as any treasure chest in a fairy tale.

As a child, I watched my father – who may love oysters even more than me – squeeze lemon, tilt the shell and swallow. I did the same; savouring the briny marvellous weirdness that tasted so clean, so much like the quantities of ocean I swallowed when learning to swim, and so utterly satisfying.

Today, it is our favourite custom to do when out together; order a dozen oysters between us and talk. We’ve created a midden of oyster shells over a lifetime of conversations. I’ll never get enough of either.

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