Oysters: Love at first bite

The Food Assembly’s Thomas Nutt gives his account on why you should be eating oysters. With a record of 26 to himself, (straight, with a touch of lemon), he believes that these little pearls of the sea might just turn you, mere mortal, into a sex god. 

Nothing quite beats a large platter of succulent, fresh, salty oysters as a prelude to a romantic Valentine’s evening. There is something quite suggestive and primal about savouring oysters; a type of raw, savage, natural process: shucking the shell, eating with your hands and slurping with your mouth. Slippery, sensual in texture… The slight sweet and salty scent, not too dissimilar to a potent female pheromone… and knowing that the food you’re eating is alive. Oh, what a culinary delight!

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Full of good stuff

Casanova, the 18th century lover used to breakfast on 50 oysters every day. And rightfully so! Mother Nature has once again surprised us all by infusing a ton of good, healthy stuff into this spunky mollusk, so let’s dive right in and have a look at what’s under the hood:

  • More animo = more libido! We can thank the two special amino acids found in oysters (which give us protein) for the increase in our levels of sex hormones.
  • And men out there will rejoice to hear that the high zinc content in oysters boosts the production of testosterone, good for male virility and increased sperm production.
  • Dopamine, also found in oysters, is a hormone that will raise your libido by stimulating that part of the brain that cause ‘arousal’.
  • Oyster also contain high levels of phosphorus and iodine, two minerals essential if you want to increase your level of stamina.
  • And last but not least, the mollusks are low in fat, but high in protein, and an excellent source of Vitamins A, B, C & D. With 57 calories per serving, what’s not to like?

A little History

The English coast, washed by cold waters and dotted with shallow bays and inlets, is an ideal habitat for oyster. Before the Romans landed on our shores in 43AD, Britons in general regarded oysters (and shellfish in general) as a food handy to have in times of scarcity but never to be savoured nor sought after.

However, the Romans brought with them an enthusiasm for eating sea animals of all kinds. This continued through the medieval ages, which saw oysters eaten on their own or stuffed inside roast capons, ducks or sausages… yes, a 18th century version of our classic Surf and Turf, involves making sausages of mutton and oysters. Have a go, but perhaps not for tonight’s romantic Valentine’s dinner.

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The consumption of oysters continued into Victorian times and pickled oysters were a regular food of the poor. As Dickens’ Sam Weller remarks in the ‘Pickwick Papers’ ‘poverty and oysters always seem to go together’. Apparently more than 700 million oysters were eaten in London in 1864 alone and the oyster industry was, at the time, one of the biggest and most lucrative globally!

The mollusk’s popularity inevitably strained wild oyster stocks; scarcity increased prices, and converted the oyster from a working-class food to it’s current status as an expensive delicacy.

Back to basics for Valentines

You can roast, bake, fry, or broil oysters, but slurping them fresh from the sea is the best way to enjoy them.

Eat them raw: the aminos shrivel up during the cooking process… and let’s just say they won’t be the only things not working.

And it’s Valentine, so play it a little naughty: for touch of decadence, try the oyster shooter, breathtakingly simple to prepare and consume, and so delicious!

1 small freshly-shucked fresh (live) oysters with its juice

1 shot of ice cold high-quality Vodka

A dash of tabasco sauce or your favorite hot sauce

Squeeze of lemon juice

Have a go and see where the night takes you.

About

Katie Roche

Katie Roche

Katie is editor of The Food Assembly blog. She enjoys writing about community, food, sustainability and how it all fits together.

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