ELIZABETHTOWN — Nearly 200 people were busy shucking oysters, peeling shrimp, and slurping down warm chowder Thursday night, when a local church held its annual oyster roast.
“Things are going really well,” said Marvin Tatum, member of the Methodist Men, as things got underway.
Tatum and around 30 other volunteers joined the approximately 160 guest for the annual oyster roast, held each year for the last three decades to benefit local charities. Even before things got underway, volunteers, graciously agreeing to serve as “quality control” were busy sampling the oysters, shrimp with cocktail sauce, hush puppies, and oysters.
Much of the talk, however, centered around the clam chowder, courtesy of “Chowder-Meister” Gary Grady.
“He’s a gourmet chef when it comes to clam chowder,” praised Greg Connor. “If you’ve never had any, you don’t know what you’re missing.
He added, “I don’t know what he puts in it, but it’s good.”
Multiple diners agreed, stating it was “out of this world.”
Before the night was over, servers would spoon more than 16 to 20 gallons of the hot soup.
The chowder was just one of the highlights. Trinity bought more than 100 pounds of jumbo shrimp, purchased from Varnertown, an area in the coastal county of Berkley in South Carolina. The largest of the shrimp were as big as the palm of a man’s hand.
The shrimp, together with the oysters and clam chowder, was enough to satisfy even the hungriest of guests. Bushel upon bushel of oysters were “cooked to perfection” — 12 minutes in the steamer — before being served straight onto the middle of tables. Some diners — mostly men — stood around specially constructed oyster tables with a central waste bin around which ran a waist-high bar. The clink of oyster shells hitting the bins mingled with the general conversation and laughter throughout the night. Throughout the packed room, oyster masters were giving tutorials to the younger or uninitiated.
At every table, the serious shuckers came with their own gloves and knives for prying open the molluscs.
The overall purpose of the evening, however, was to do good. Proceeds from the 160 ticket sales will be used to benefit the Bladen Journal’s Empty Stocking Fund, Bladen Crisis, and a number of other charities.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.