By Mary Reid Barrow
Thanksgiving will be a real Tidewater holiday for me and my family this year.
No turkey! Instead, oysters, rockfish and crabmeat with a little Carolina shrimp thrown in will be the centerpiece.
It will be a Thanksfishing Day!
Oh, we’ll have some Princess Anne County sweet potatoes and a kale/local veggie salad. I’ll make some of my grandma’s cheese biscuits, and we’ll have some fairly local ham biscuits too.
The outlier will be my son-in-law’s lemon rosemary olive oil pound cake, straight from Italy!
Memories of my grandfather inspired this seafood Thanksgiving. For one I remember sitting with him (a little bored, I have to say) in his little skiff as he trolled for rockfish along the Piankatank River every fall.
Years later, I wrote a history column for the paper, and I was often told, though I could never verify it, that rockfish stuffed with crabmeat was the holiday meal of choice in old Virginia Beach!
I’ve never eaten it, and don’t have a recipe for it, but with the help of a good cook son-in-law, I know it will be wonderful. Now that there are no young ones in the family to disappoint, it’s a good year to try it!
Ever since I can remember, Lynnhaven oysters were part of my holidays. Though I grew up in Richmond, my grandfather, who also lived in Richmond, was born and bred in Norfolk. His brother lived on the Lynnhaven River and drove to Richmond for the holidays, always with a cooler of Lynnhavens in his car.
I don’t remember a thing about my grandmother’s turkey. I only remember my grandpa, my dad and lots of uncles sitting on the back porch shucking oysters and drinking whiskey neat.
It didn’t appeal to me at all then! But the memory of all those grown ups eating raw oysters with such gusto has remained with me to this day. For a long time, my holiday hasn’t been a holiday without Lynnhaven oysters.
Now there’ll be rockfish too. And I’ll be giving thanks for the bounty of seafood from our beautiful Lynnhaven River and Chesapeake Bay and for grandpa’s genes.
Reach Mary Reid: MaryReid@LRNow.org