Oysters, The Food of The Gods!
It’s no coincidence Aphrodite, the revered Grecian goddess of love (none other than the one whose name we derive the word ‘aphrodisiac’) rose from the sea on an oyster shell before giving birth to Eros. What a woman! Oysters have been long enjoyed for their lustful qualities, turning on Roman Emperors to Members of Parliament… I say.
It’s no wonder either. Oysters provide the highest concentration of zinc of any food, a key nutrient in men’s sexual health (healthy swimmers galore).
Other benefits of zinc include significantly reducing the duration of colds, aiding normal skin function as its required for protein synthesis (healthy hair and nails, yes please) Oysters are also a fantastic source of raw protein, trace minerals (copper, iron, selenium) and vitamin B12. If you’re suffering the after effects of a heavy evening, a couple of oysters the morning are a serious pick-me-up!
So the health and love-making advantages are clearly apparent. But how and when can we get down to eating them? Are you ready to pimp Aphrodite’s ride and jump on the oyster bandwagon?
The best seasons for enjoying oysters are autumn, winter and early spring. If you must eat raw oysters in the summer, choose those imported from colder waters.
Oysters, in my humble opinion, are best enjoyed live and raw, with a generous squeeze of my friend miss lemon juice. If you’re a beginner, I’d suggest opting for the smaller sizes, which are easier to manage. Your fishmonger should have a good selection. They also keep in the fridge for up to 2 days, great if you’re planning for a meal or special occasion.
To open, you’ll need an oyster knife, work gloves (an oven-glove, or study tea towel also does the trick) and a firm surface on top of a folded cloth. Oysters placed in the freezer for 10-20 minutes before opening will open more easily. Wearing gloves, hold the oyster firmly on surface, with its deeper cupped shell down and hinge towards you. Work the knife blade between the shell halves into the small opening near the hinge and twist until the hinge gives. You may need a little bit of practice in finding the ‘opening’ where it gives, but once you’ve got in it’s quite satisfying (in a cavewoman kind of way.)
Pick out any pieces of broken shell, then slide the knife along the inside of the cupped shell, freeing the oyster meat. Fresh, shucked oysters should be submerged in their own seawater, which is good to eat too. Squeeze in lemon juice, or tobacco sauce if you’d like to spice things up, lift to your mouth, and- down the hatch! Be sure to chew and savour the zincy, mineral taste full of goodness.
If this thought this is just too much for you to bear, they can also be enjoyed cooked. Check out my gorgeous grilled farmhouse versions in recipes!
So there you have it. I hope the next time you are visiting your fishmonger, you’ll give them a shot