From 1-inch fellas to massive 5-inch zinc-filled bivalve molluscs, oysters are often the highlight of many a fine dinners. However, if you’ve never eaten one before, they can be a little intimidating. Shiny and slippery, they stare at you from across the table, beckoning you to indulge in a little gastronomic gratification.
Like engaging in a new dance or showing up at your first swinger’s party, it can be a little awkward at first. But after a few times, you’ll be the one discerning between the Kumamotos and the Kusshis (both my favorite oysters, by the by).
First, pick up the lil’ guy. Using the little fork provided, detach the oyster from the half shell and let it sit there. Put down your fork and let the oyster slide into your mouth with the wide end of the oyster shell facing towards your mouth. Doing so will make for a smoother transition from shell to mouth.
Chew once or twice to get the flavour out and then swallow. Some people believe that one shouldn’t even chew. However, if you don’t, you won’t get the full flavour of the oyster. You might as well be slurping gelatin then.
Oyster generally come with a variety of edible embellishments: lemon, horseradish, red wine vinegar, cocktail sauce, etc. Purists will abstain. However, they’re there to be used if you like. It’s a personal choice. The maitre’d won’t judge you and neither will we.
How Can You Tell If The Oyster Was Good?
Smell is key. If it smells bad, well then, it’s bad. Oysters shouldn’t smell overly fishy either. It should be a clean and briny smell.
There should be lots of clear sea water. The oyster itself should be opaque. If it’s clear, then the poor guy didn’t get enough nutrition growing up. It should also look full in its shell and not small or shrivelled.
Taste-wise, it should not be overly salty.
If you get bad oysters or think they may be bad, just send them back. It’s not a big deal and it’s always better to err on the safe side.
Wanna Impress The Foodies?
If you happen to be dining with a bunch of gourmands or people who think they’re gourmands and care about what they think, then drop a few of the following buzz words: briny, metallic, copper, salty, sweet, buttery, chewy.
Like every lady knows, don’t comment on the size.
How Do I Go About Ordering?
Oysters are based on season and availability so you may not always get what you want. Instead tell the waiter what tastes or textures you prefer and ask for a suggestion.
If you’ve had oysters before that you particularly enjoy, let the waiter know as well. She may not have them in stock but you can let them know that you enjoy a good Fanny Bay or a Malpeque. With this information at hand, your waiter should be able to suggest something along those lines.
Enjoy and don’t forget that they’re also an aphrodisiac, as well as foodie’s wet dream :)