Shucking oysters is anything but new to Leslie 'Juicy' McKie. A prominent presence on the social scene at events hosted by the well-to-do, Thursday Life caught up with McKie (our last interview was in 2008) at Jennifer Azan's birthday party at CRU Tuesday last, serving up his molluscs for guests, particularly attentive gents. McKie, who's been in the business for an impressive 35 years, boasts an impressive repeat customer base.
"My oysters are from Old Harbour," he discloses. "I head out early in the mornings and go into the swamplands to source them."
Oyster punch (yes, an actual beverage) is a concoction that McKie also serves up. "It's made with oysters, Irish moss, rum, glucose and honey."
Juicy's introduction to the art came at the age of 18. "I was staying with my brother Errol at Kensington Crescent," he explains, "when I met one Mr Thompson, better known as 'Give Thanks,' who introduced me to the business side
The lessons were well grasped and he would accompany 'Give Thanks' to many private functions where he shucked hundreds of chiney, rock and cup oysters. "He taught me how to open oysters and to separate the good ones from the bad. I stayed with him for two years before venturing out on my own." Venturing out also meant developing his own line of oyster sauces. "I credit God for this success," he explains while adding hot and sweet sauce to the fresh oyster.
The sauce — there's fresh and hot and mild, too — that adds just the right amount of kick to the oysters, sending grown men and women into obsessive behaviour, is a combination of honey, Scotch bonnet pepper, brown sugar, cane juice, roots, pimento, onions and carrots cured for up to eight years which he mixes with the fresher sauces.
A cup is taken out and mixed with cane vinegar. It's delicious and decidedly moreish, too. We reckon you now understand why very little movement (save that flick of the wrist that takes the oyster to the mouth) is evident whenever Juicy's oyster station is in the house, where the uninitiated swallow and the pros chew and
Juicy surmises that of all the molluscs, oysters, especially the rock and cup variety, are the most highly prized, served raw on the half-shell from Old Harbour Bay or imported (but given that extra 'pop' served with one of his special sauces.
"Oysters," chuckles Juicy "are good for back pain, nerves, eyesight and low sperm count!)
Oysters are a prized aphrodisiac and demands for his 'Baby in the bottle', a glass of oysters with hot and sweet sauce or oysters blended with Irish Moss, a little glucose and a Guinness stout thrown in for good measure, is in
as much demand as our annual cookbooks.