When my family of four isn’t in the car making our way from house to house, our Christmas celebration includes an extended amount of family time, loud conversations, refreshing cocktails, a few toddler meltdowns, and always some good food.
My favorite part of celebrating Christmas is our gulf-style Christmas Eve Oyster Bake. I live in Mobile, Alabama which if you aren’t sure, is located on the bay that opens to the Gulf Of Mexico. To say we have some delicious seafood is an understatement. Think New Orleans zest meets coastal Florida freshness.
Oysters are always in season around Christmas time and year after year we joyfully embrace a tradition that involves, raw oysters and bourbon. Some might say this is a little odd or even extreme but let me explain before you decide this tradition is a little too raw for your taste.
The morning before Christmas my sister and I are running around town, usually finishing last minute errands before we each head to church and then to our in-laws to exchange gifts. We both have in-laws who live in town se we tend to have busy Christmases as we all try and schedule around one another’s plans. But one thing we always manage is to make it over to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve.
Our parents live on Dog River, which is a river that goes into Mobile Bay. They have the perfect setup at their house with a large back yard, beautiful waterfront views, a large deck and an open kitchen with a bar so no matter where you are, you’re part of the conversation. Well I call it conversation, others might call it yelling. We have a very loud family and we all try to talk at the same time. Add our four kids to the mix and it’s just the right amount of pleasant chaos.
When the sun has set over the river, my dad fires up the Green Egg grill and brings out the slimy goodness known as oysters. He throws dozens of them over the fire to give us the best flame broiled oysters you’ll find from Louisiana to Florida. My mother makes a few different sauces to put over the oyster while they are on the grill. You will have your choice of oysters with butter, parmesan, seasonings, and bacon; oysters with a parmesan and spinach sauce; Italian style with breadcrumbs, parmesan and garlic; or oysters with a simple butter sauce. The options are so mouth-watering you will not even begin to pick a favorite.
Before we enjoy this amazing gulf coast dinner, we all must do one thing. Our tradition requires us to take a shot of my dad’s bourbon and everyone must eat a raw oyster. If you have never tried a raw oyster, you would probably be a little hesitant to try this. A raw oyster is like one slimy, round, piece of seafood. Some people think it’s disgusting while others can eat dozens of raw oysters at any restaurant with an oyster bar. I happen to love raw oysters on a cracker with a little Tobasco. Yum! All of the adults gather alongside the bar in the kitchen and take our shot of bourbon, which some of us enjoy and others try to fight the reflex to twinge afterwards. Then we each get our delicious raw oyster and swallow it down. In a few years this is something our kids will join in doing as well. The oyster part of course, no bourbon.
It has been one of my favorite memories and most delicious meals of the year. Our Christmas dinner takes on a little southern style of its own.
Kelli is a wife and mother of two children. She has a public relations degree and love writing on her new blog simplekindofmom.com. She covers a range of topics about babies, toddlers, organization, and life in general as a busy working mother. You can follow her on twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest to learn more about Kelli.