Oyster Supper

Letter From Arkansas

As a nonnative from a cold-weather climate, I have observed that there are four seasons in Arkansas’ Delta: warm, hot, scorching, and malarial.  Another way to understand the weather in this part of the South is through the eyes of a ubiquitous inhabitant: the mosquito.  They bite in February; aerial insecticide spraying commences in May; windshields are covered by July; and they breed the rest of the year.  This latter point is only slight exaggeration.  The weather in the Delta is so hot and humid that rice, a crop generally associated with sweltering Vietnam, is the region’s main agricultural export.

The Knights of Columbus are using Delta rice oil to prepare the oysters, transported from the Gulf of Mexico, at the supper they have organized at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Slovak.  It is late January, and a mild breeze is blowing under a slate-gray sky.  Slovak is so small that there is no traffic light, post office, or general store.  The eternal debate over the relative merits of raw versus fried oysters has been settled.  Both varieties are available to the nearly 2,500 in attendance at the all-male event.  Many are dressed in outdoor gear worn to hunt duck, a popular local sport.  The area is surrounded by vast farmland.  There are several dozen homes and Ss. Cyril and Methodius, which includes a church, community hall, cemetery, and a...

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