Being Human


The pebbles rattled like a baby’s toy. Endlessly. In and out with the waves. They shifted under my salt-crusted feet.

“This one?”

“A little smaller. Make sure that they are not open,” my cousin said to me.

As I reached down again, the cold water washed my hand and soaked the hem of my pants. One has to be careful when opening oysters so you don’t cut your hands. It’s also important to pick up one’s that are closed up tight. Don’t take too many from the same place. Always have plenty of butter and beer on hand.

Farther up on the gravely beach, Uncle had started a fire. He pulled the blackened grill out from it storage spot and arranged it until it sat firm on the rocks around the crackling flame. “You’re gonna freeze out there. Bring those over and come stand by the fire,” he called out to me.

I ran up the  beach (if you could call it that) slipping on the rocks, sliding on my flip-flops. My wet, smelly treasure bound up in an old onion-bag and bouncing along at my side. He arranged them carefully over the flames so they would cook evenly. I watched. I could smell the thick leather glove he used getting hot. The fire crackle and sizzled when small drops of water tickled it and I imagined that the early summer sun would sound that way as it set down into the water.

“Here,” my cousin said, handing me a thick wool sweater. I wiggled into it and sat down on the old lawn chair, pushing my frozen feet closer to the fire. It was just light enough to see the empty beach and the firefly-lights of each little cottage on the canal beginning to shine and flicker.

“Ah!” said my Uncle. A bit of sizzling steam rose up from the fire as he took off the first oyster. “Dip it,” he said. His gloved hand clasped clumsy onto the plate. He offered it like a priest at mass. I could hear the voice of the earth; soft, old and rattling like the waves.  “This is my blood,” she whispered. I dipped. “This is my body.” I ate.

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Five different vignettes that take place over the long course of human history — all telling some kind of simple tale of homo sapiens hijinx that eventually unfold a bittersweet life lesson. An attempt on director-screenwriter Bill Forsyth’s part to depict by visual means the ordinariness of life throughout the ages, Being Human is deliberately slow in its pace in order to emphasize how slow life often is.

This is a wonderful, overlooked and underrated movie.

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The researchers, from the group Oceana, collected 142 fish samples earlier this year from 81 retail outlets, including large grocery stores, corner bodegas, high-end restaurants, and sushi bars. They analyzed the samples using DNA barcoding, and found that 39 percent of the fish were labeled as other species.

Farm-raised Atlantic salmon had been substituted for wild-caught salmon, they found. Ocean perch, tilapia, and goldbanded jobfish were sold as red snapper. Fish labeled “white tuna” was escolar, which can cause acute gastrointestinal problems. And one serving of halibut was really tilefish, a species with so much mercury that the Food and Drug Administration has placed it on the do-not-eat list for pregnant women and young children. – NPR

Here is a list of sustainable seafood choices: http://blueocean.org/seafoods/

But the best way to avoid mislabeling and seafood fraud is to shop at the locally owned market or your nearest beach open to shellfish collection.

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