Learning to open oysters has been my summer project. Living on the Cape and loving  oysters as I do, it seems like a skill worth learning.

The pros make it look so easy! Insert the knife in the hinge end, give it a twist, and pop! the oyster opens. At the Wellfleet Oyster Fest Shuck-Off last October, the champion opened 24 oysters in one minute and 48 seconds.  

So why is it so darn hard when I do it? The first dozen oysters I bought this season took over an hour of cursing and sweating to open. Now, several dozens later, I’ve about halved that time. I’ve tried different knives: the rounded tip kind and the kind with the curved point. I’ve tried the short screwdriver method recommended by Cooks Illustrated. There’s a knife that looks like a stiletto I’ve got my eye on next.

A rubber-palmed garden glove has alleviated my fear of slashing artery, so I’m more willing to apply pressure. And there’s technique: a side to side wiggle alternating with an up and down wiggle seems to ease my knife into the sweet spot.

But I’ve decided that the real secret is attitude. I have to believe that the oyster will open, or it won’t.