Strange Chinese tales about oysters

by Forager on February 17, 2009

I recently stumbled across a hilarious website called My Mom Is A Fob. It got me thinking about my parents and the “strange and bizarre” tales my parents have fed me over the years. So, in homage to that site, here are two food related stories that belong on it. They both happen to contain oysters. Go figure.

Oysters, prawns and scallops are classed as not animals.

Whilst my father was filling out his customs form on the way back from HK, I leaned over his shoulder to check. I was alarmed that he had just declared that we had no animal products with us when I definitely remember dried oysters, prawns and scallops being packed into suitcases the night before. Not wanting to just correct the form on his behalf and have him make the same mistake the next time he fills out that form, I decide to talk through his thought processes so he figures it out for himself.

Me: Hey Dad – why did you tick the box that says you have no animal products to declare?
Dad: Because I have no animal products to declare
Me… Okay. Why don’t you list the stuff we brought back then?
Dad: We have dried ginseng, dried oysters, dried prawns and dried scallops
Me: Right! So aren’t the oysters, prawns and scallops all animal products?
Dad: No – they’re not animals. They’re seafood.
Me: Uh – the last time I checked sea animals were classed as animals too.
Dad: Hmpf! Don’t be stupid.

To avoid public humiliation and the undesired fame from appearing on Border Security, I gave up changed his forms for him.

Oysters are vegetables?

On the first morning of the Chinese new year we traditionally have a vegetarian breakfast. The co-pilot and I were at my parent’s house, and having just wished my parents a healthy and prosperous year of the ox, we sat down to breakfast. My mother was busy telling me that everything that was in the vegetarian stir fry was there because it was auspicious. For example, the words for black hair moss sounds homophonic to the phrase strike a fortune; lotus root sounds homophonic to the words, year and to have; and oysters sound homophonic to the phrase good things.

Me: Hang on.. aren’t we having vegetarian? What are oysters doing in there?
Mum: Oysters are vegetarian.
Me: … They are clearly animals mum.
Mum: No they aren’t. They don’t have blood.
Me: WHAT?! Look, just because they don’t have red blood like we do doesn’t mean they don’t have blood.
Dad: Prawns are vegetarian too!
Me: WHAT?!
Mum: Don’t be stupid. Clearly prawns are animals *sigh* (and it’s a patronising sigh)
Mum: There’s a story about how the oyster came to be vegetarian. One day the wise man went to the sea and said “If you are vegetarian, move to one side, non-vegetarians to the other side”. The oyster hopped across to the vegetarian side and so the oyster is vegetarian.
Me: ….

How do you argue with logic that is so sound?

I hope it’s not genetic. Or contagious…

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FFichiban February 18, 2009 at 1:32 pm

HAHHAHA I love your mum’s oyster story! Ahhh yeah fobness is funny hee hee

2 Forager February 19, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Hey FFichiban – ah yes. I think in retrospect it is funny. It certainly wasn't funny at the time though!
(On a side note – I notice that you're a fan of FF & Genesis. I am/was quite obsessed with Gackt who is Genesis' Japanese voice).

3 Steve February 26, 2009 at 9:56 am

i can’t wait to see your folks on Broder Security. Probably standing in line with my grand parents.

4 TasteHongKong March 3, 2009 at 3:10 am

Interesting story, thanks! Haven’t heard of such among us Chinese (I’m from Hong Kong by the way). However, we often include dried oysters in vegetarian dishes, and probably I have taken granted for such. Yes, dried oysters pronounces similar to ‘good things’, that’s why it is almost a must in our meals during the Chinese New Year.

5 Forager March 3, 2009 at 9:54 am

Hey Steve – my parents, like most Asians are perfect candidates for Border Security. In fact, my inate inability to remember that jerky is not permitted through customs is reason enough for me to be in there. Why don’t they let you eat your contraband goods on the spot though?

Hey TasteHongKong – so it isn’t just my mother or my family that use dried oysters in vegetarian dishes! Good to know my parents aren’t insane then! Great site you’ve got btw – I’ll be looking to it for more traditional cooking recipes :)

6 TasteHongKong March 3, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Welcome to drop by. My blog is about 3 months old and I just started to actively feeding it in these 1 to 2 weeks. Am sure it has yet to be improved. So glad to hear your comments – please be critical :).

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