Oysters: instructions for use
Surely everyone heard that there is a rule: it is safe to eat oysters only in those months in the name of which there is the letter “P”. It all started back in ancient Rome, when people began to notice that in summer oysters brought from the Atlantic coast could easily be poisoned. They decided that the mollusks became poisonous. And even Cicero in the 1st century BC in a treatise dedicated to oysters reflected on the dangers of this food in the hot months and the introduction of P-taboo.
In fact, the oysters were not to blame. The Romans simply could not provide the necessary conditions for transporting sea delicacies in the heat, because shells are comfortable traveling at a temperature of + 1 + 4. Oysters spoiled on the road and became a health hazardous product.
The oyster season in our Northern Hemisphere is the period from September to April. Remember, Remarque in “Life on loan”: “Lilian reached the hotel … At the entrance to the cafe was a seller of oysters. “Today I have marvelous shrimps,” he said. “The oysters are almost gone.” They will appear only in September. ”
The fact is that in many mollusks in summer there is a breeding season, the signal for which is heating water. The water has warmed up – oysters begin to spawn, become “milky”, bitter, lose their elasticity. Previously, however, this did not stop anyone, ate oysters all year round. And this led in the XVIII century to such a reduction in the population of mollusks off the coast of France and on the East coast of America, that the authorities of these countries had to legally prohibit the collection of oysters during their breeding season, setting huge fines for those who tried to sell delicacies from May 1 to September 1 .
Eat oysters at any time of the year!
In the 21st century, one should not show “ancient Roman” concern. Thanks to technological advances, suppliers provide fast, gentle transport and storage at the best temperature for oysters. And they may even bring mollusks from New Zealand to Moscow. By the way, they have in the Southern Hemisphere, on the contrary, and the peak of the oyster season falls precisely in our summer months.
And in the Northern Hemisphere, farmers figured out how to produce an all-weather oyster. It is sterile, it is never “milk” and its taste is good at any time of the year. While regular oysters have a “milky” vacation, 4 seasons oysters are delivered to restaurants and shops.
And don’t be afraid, if all of a sudden you still come across “milk”. Oyster milk is not toxic.
The main rule that is really worth remembering: do not even try an oyster that looks and smells bad. Fresh oyster should exude a pleasant smell of the sea, be shiny and full-bodied, contain colorless transparent juice – “oyster liquor”. And eat oysters in proven places where professionals are responsible for quality.
What and how to eat: oyster fork in the studio!
Oyster fork is a special cutlery. Usually its length is a little more than 10 cm. As a rule, this is a fork with three teeth.
In the classic version, the leftmost tooth of the oyster fork is noticeably wider; it is designed to accurately separate the oyster pulp from the shell wall. In antique shops you can find old oyster forks for left-handed people. They are made to order and they have a wide right tooth. The French, in order not to get confused in the right-handed and left-handed people, came up with oyster forks, which have wide teeth on both sides. Most often in restaurants there are devices of this form. At receptions or retreats, for convenience, disposable two-toothed wooden forks can be used.
The peak of fashion for oyster forks fell on the Great Era, the period of European history from the last decades of the 19th century until the First World War. At this time, eating an oyster without an oyster fork in decent society was simply impossible. The British made such a rule at the end of the 18th century. It was they who invented the forks for oysters. However, like forks for shrimp, ice cream, salad, strawberries and much more.
Oscar Wilde has a wonderful phrase: “The world was my oyster, but I took the wrong fork.” In order not to get into trouble at the table, just remember: the oyster fork, unlike all others, is located to the right of the plate.
Today we are not so constrained by etiquette. In many establishments, oysters will be served already trimmed and you don’t need a fork at all: you can simply drink oysters from the sink. In my opinion, it is even tastier and more erotic. Do not put the clam on the fork. Oyster is like a grape. In order not to lose all the most delicious, send it to your mouth must be whole. If you still need to separate the flesh of the mollusk from the sink, and there is no oyster fork at hand, do not torment the oyster with an ordinary fork and do not cut with a knife, use a teaspoon.