Oyster Season

Several years ago, I wrote an article on oysters for paris-anglo.com’s weekly update MyMercredi. I was living in Paris at the time, and became fascinated by the traditional crustacean stands popping up around the winter holidays. Although having grown up near the Gulf Coast, I wasn’t much of an oyster aficionado, only occasionally venturing a deep-fried mouthful from the seafood buffeted plate of one of my family members, or as a young adventurer once sharing a dozen raw with my mom at a place in Alexandria, LA called The Lemon Tree. Like many, my critique was ‘slimy & snotty,’ yet I was still somewhat intrigued. The Paris article gave me an inside look into oysters and other seafood of which I was wary, but with the poetic twist of them lounging gallantly on pedestals in Paris attended by burly Frenchman. Ahhh, how delightful (my cheezy Parisian-lovin’ self comes out right about now.)

Since then, I’ve dived in a bit more often, even going so far as to brave sweet oyster happy hour deals. Recently my friend Kristi wanted to plan a group outing to Shucks (which I’ve mentioned before); she had a mean hankering. It was at that moment that I realized how often I’d been eating oysters. Thanks to pre-opening dinners at Pamplona Tapas Bar, I was lucky enough to scoop up those chargrilled delights a couple of times, in addition to their Basque-style version once. In the past couple of weeks, this would make the second jaunt over to Shucks for raw (preferring the first due to their smaller, slinkier size). I enjoyed some chargilled at Cochon with friends last weekend in New Orleans. And only the night before he second Shucks outing I’d purchased a can of smoked from Fresh Market to dig into with some toast points and a salad. Have I been making up for lost time? Is this healthy?

Mark Kurlansky’s The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell is a witty, informative look into the world of oysters highlighting New York City as the once oyster capital of the world. Taking a look inside, one description of what we’re actually eating is enough to send any amateur running for the hills. Again, it must be the romantic lure of actually having them in your mouth that’s the real draw. Or the flavor. Or the differences in size and shape. Or the aphrodisiac factor. Not too sure about that last one. I’ve been eatin’ ‘em, but my friskiness level has not increased. Note to self: need more research.

While eating raw oysters may often be risky, I have yet to find information that eating them, whether raw or cooked, as often as I have is dangerous. They are in fact a good source of calcium, B12, iron, zinc, and copper. Wait, is copper good for you? Yes. It is apparently the third most abundant trace mineral in the body, and is essential for normal growth and health.

The saying goes that oysters should only be eaten during months ending with an ‘r.’ Actually, that just means that they are freshest and sweetest then. But then once you’ve had your fill of oysters, it’s crawfish season. Vive les crustacés et coquillages!!!

Have a delightful season, and bon appétit!

Some interesting oyster sites/tips/recipes:

How to Shuck an Oyster
Eating Oysters
Oysters with Nobu’s Three Salsas
Scalloped Oysters
Oysters Rockefeller
Baked Oyster Dressing

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