It's taken me 50 years to try an oyster... \ Rick Jackson

When was the last time you went on a gastronomic journey? One where you put yourself out of your comfort zone and tried things for the first time?

By Rick Jackson
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 6:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 6:23 pm

For me it was last Saturday and the things I tried for the first time are probably things you are very familiar with and enjoy, if not regularly, but as a treat.

I’m not a fishy person. Never have been. Fish fingers as a kid were as far as it went and even then I managed to get them off the menu long before I left home.

I was ready to try something different though.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Ricks first experience with oysters wasn't too bad... Picture: Adobe Stock

I’m fast approaching 50 and I really need to taste these things before I can say I don’t like them, otherwise I’m as bad as my children!

My best friend turned 50 at the weekend. It was suggested that we go to a fish restaurant to celebrate.

I thought to myself - I’m sure they’ll do steak.

It was a lovely location on Southsea seafront.

We watched the ferries arrive and depart and big cruise ships slowly sail past, enjoying a cold, crisp glass of white wine.

A tapas-style starter was served. Who would have thought smoked salmon was so nice! It smells awful when you open the wrapper.

What I wasn’t so sure about were the oysters. Even my wife, who loves fish, was also unsure. Six of Cornwall’s finest arrived on the table.

Loosen with the knife, a small sprinkle of shallots in vinegar and in they went. Do you chew? I did, but only lightly.

Well, it was mainly sea water with a hint of vinegar for me as they churned around in my mouth.

I have to say, it wasn’t too bad. In fact I quite enjoyed the theatre of it all.

Our friends then had dressed crab. They were huge. The claws were bigger than my fist. I watched in awe are they painstakingly picked out the meat... for several hours!

Sadly, the taste of crab made me feel sick so I stuck to the oysters and smoked salmon.

I thought I’d done well enough for the first time.

If you see me this weekend please give me a wide berth!

We try the caravan for the first time in anger this weekend, just steer clear of The Witterings.

I’ve learnt how to clean the water system, prime the gas boiler and use the Motor Mover, a clever electric engine which manoeuvres the van for you. We also have a full-sized awning I’ve never used which needs to be attached to the side of the caravan and a series of poles need to be constructed. We’re only there for the long weekend and I’m wondering if I’ll get it all done in time.

What I am looking forward to is a relaxing evening with a glass of wine and the heating on as we kick back and enjoy it for the first time. Last time I used it, the front wheel fell off, so I’m praying for better. Wish us luck!

Harry Potter and the wonder of reading, what a total joy

I loved Harry Potter. I read the books and watched the films. Now our children are getting into it.

We’ve allowed Holly, six, to watch the first two movies but we felt the Dementors was a step too far. It wasn’t. She took it in her stride.

What surprised me is our seven-year-old Freddie. He’s now half way through the first book. He’s autistic but surprises me every day. He excels at reading and maths. His grasp of the English language is impressive, including its punctuation. He gets the mechanics of it.

What we now need to work on is his understanding of the story and how the characters feel. I hope he enjoys the wonder of the books as well as the number of exclamation marks!​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​