I know some of you reading this will read the word ‘oysters’ and close down, but bear with me.
There is nothing as perfect as the perfect oyster.
If you love oysters you can trumpet your love of them to your friends and enjoy their showing their shock, horror or even disgust. And then laugh at their total misunderstanding of the joy of oysters.
For those, like me, who love their oysters, there is nothing as wonderful as the massive ozone hit of an oyster (I nearly wrote ‘fresh oyster’ there, but really, who would imbibe an aged oyster?).
Here in County Donegal, Ireland we are very lucky to be able to enjoy the best and freshest oysters on the planet. Imagine being able to go into a very old bar, dating back hundreds of years, sit in a tiny bar in front of a big open fire in the same bar Dylan Thomas called his local when he lived here and order a glass of cool fresh Guinness and half a dozen oysters from waters just a few miles from that bar?
You really can’t get fresher oysters than that.
Now, to chew or to swallow? That is the question. The only answer to that is, chew.
Why on earth would you swallow back a live crustacean: it might live on in your tummy remember! (It won’t actually; the acid there will kill it pretty quickly). But tipping the oyster into your mouth and chewing it … it may possibly be the most perfect hit of food perfection you might ever have.
The hit is so good it makes me wonder why they are served with Tabasco sauce or lemons. There really is no need to gild the lily. Don’t try. Just enjoy them naked.
Which brings me to Oysters Rockefeller and other cooked oyster dishes. Why on earth would you tamper with perfection and cook them? Oysters are at their very best in their natural state: raw and fresh.
But heed this: you must only eat the freshest oysters: Michael Winner, film maker and food critic (and a dear friend of mine on twitter) probably died as a result of eating a bad oyster some years earlier at a very expensive hotel in the Caribbean. From The Telegraph in January 2007: “he contracted the rare disease vibrio vulnificus after eating an oyster in Barbados.”
So the moral is. Eat fresh, locally sourced oysters bare naked and with impunity.”