He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”Jonathan Swift, 18th century
Many myths surround the story of oysters. Many claim we started eating them in the late 17th century. And originally they were considered ‘working class food’, today they are a luxurious delicacy often related to being an aphrodisiac. Even though no evidence has been shown to prove that oysters enhance you libido. Here are these, and other myths, debunked:
In a 2007 article published by NPR, Christopher Royce, writes that us, humans, started munching on these delicacies and other shellfish 164,000 years ago! Based on the findings of anthropologists in a South African cave. This shows that we have had ‘expensive’ taste since the beginning of time.
How did oysters became so popular? It all started in an infamous city, a city with famous lyrics “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”; according to oysters this is true. The New York City Harbour became the place to find them, partly because of the Dutch. When they arrived in the 17th century to America (note: New York used to be New Amsterdam and a Dutch colony), the banks were filled with these mollusks, and the Dutch as well as the native Americans loved them. In time, the city kept growing and so did the wish to enjoy them, making the New York City Harbour, during the 19th century, the biggest source of oysters in the world. Sadly their popularity damaged the environment so much there aren’t much to be found today. However, there have been efforts to bring back to life the oyster beds, but there’s little to no hope to bring them back all the way to their former glory. This is one of the reasons it went from ‘working class food’ to a luxurious delicacy.
Bubbles and Oysters are the perfect pair
This is a myth, while oysters and champagne do taste delicious, the true ‘other-half’ of oysters is Absinthe. A pair created by Americans in the east coast, and then experimented on by Americans in New Orleans. For the original taste head to Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, NYC and you’ll never go back to pairing them with bubbles ever again.
Oysters are an aphrodisiac
The reason many people associate oysters with aphrodisiacs is because of the levels of zinc they provide, making you feel energized, reinforcing your immune system, so you generally feel good. They also make the ocean feel better, they clean an average of 30 to 50 (est. 113.6 – 189.3 liters) gallons of water per day. Their shells also have a lot of calcium, helping plants grow. But be careful when eating oysters during warm weather, tradition says to don’t eat shellfish in the months with no ‘R’: May, June, July and August, since its harder to keep them cool and fresh.
The best oysters come from France
Popularity says so, but exports say otherwise. Did you know that 80% of oysters obtained in Delta de L’Ebre in Spain are exported to France? In a world with over a hundred different kinds of oysters they all come from 5 main oyster species. one of the most unique oyster comes from Australia. If you wish to know where your oysters are from you can tell by their shape:
|Kumamoto||Orig. Japan. Today USA||smaller, rounder and paler shells||sweet and honeydew finish, great for novices and connoisseurs|
|Pacific / Japanese||Orig. Northeast Asia. Today Japan, Canada, USA, Korea, France, UK and New Zealand.||smaller shells and wavy ridges||most common variety, similar taste to kumamoto|
|European Flat/Belons||Orig. France||large shell with fine ridges||seaweed and mineral taste|
|Olympia||Pacific Coast: California, USA and Baja California, Mexico||similar to Kumamoto Oysters but with a bit of iridescent coloring||big flavor in a tiny shell: sweet, nutty and metallic taste|
|Atlantic||Orig. Ireland. Today: Europe and the USA||larger shells similar to a tear drop or a comma||heavy salty taste, if you like strong flavors this one’s for you|
So whichever type of oyster you fancy, every time you eat an oyster, treat them as you would the world: as an adventure.
Sources: The Oyster Gourmet, A Luxury Travel Blog, Michelin Guide, Eater, NPR, The Spruce Eats, Food Republic and Chefs Resources.