Though oysters have re-emerged as one of the hottest foodie trends in recent years, we have found that some young professionals (YPs) are still freaked out by the idea of slurping up the little delicacy in raw form. Well, scaredy cats, it’s time to get on the shucking bandwagon! Not only are these salty morsels totally delicious, they are low-cal, super fun to eat, and possibly the only living cruelty-free food out there (that’s right, even some vegans are partaking in oysters these days). There are a variety of reasons why you should finally try oysters, and so we’ve gone to a top expert to find out how you can overcome that fear and enjoy this great trend.
From an oyster authority
Ilene Polansky has been in the oyster business for over 25 years. Her oyster bar, Maestro Svp, was the very first oyster bar in Montreal. Today, her new location on the famous Blvd St. Laurent continues to see a steady flow of very satisfied oyster slurpers. Ilene says that people need not be afraid of eating oysters, but instead should see the experience as an adventure, “a different way of eating compared to the typical fork and knife experience.” We agree. Dining on oysters is so much more than just eating. It’s social, it’s interactive, and it’s even a bit funny (hey, nothing can be too serious when slurping is involved). When asked her personal and professional opinion regarding the best way to eat an oyster, Ilene states: “with just a small squeeze of lemon. And you should always chew your oysters; three times to be exact, as that is when you break down the muscle, and the sweetness of the oysters comes out.” Sounds delish! (Though we are partial to a little hot sauce too).
Getting over the ick factor
We can admit that, at first, the idea of eating raw oysters can be a little daunting. There certainly has to be some “just don’t think about it” employed when doing so. But when it comes to convincing newbies to take the plunge and just try it, Ilene says that’s her specialty. “I have been convincing people for years, and a lot of customers come back and thank me.” We believe it. Many YPs that we’ve talked to say that once they got over the initial ick factor and tried them, they absolutely fell in love with oysters and were thankful to who or whatever finally convinced them.
So, for the oyster rookies, what type of oyster does Ilene suggest starting with? “I think a Beau Soleil oyster from New Brunswick is the easiest oyster to start on. It is small but full, and less salty than other oysters.” Ok, but we still have to ask, what about the safety issue? Raw is raw, and things can go very wrong with that, if you know what we mean. Ilene says that at her restaurant, like at most reputable oyster establishments, “We count each and every one of our oysters every day, which means we are checking quality every single day. We also follow current oyster news from our suppliers about red tides or any other happenings that could affect the quality of the oysters.” And what about bacteria? To ensure that your oyster doesn’t harbor the dangerous vibrio vulnificus bacteria, look for clear rather than cloudy juices surrounding a plump glossy oyster, nestled in a clean white shell, and a smell that is briny, not fishy.
We all know the theory that oysters can act as an aphrodisiac, but what are the other benefits of partaking of these succulent little buggers? For one, they are pretty darn healthy. High in protein, low in calories, high in many vitamins and minerals, and low in cholesterol, oysters, aside from the sodium issue, are pretty much a super food. Another reason to enjoy them: according to some theorists over the last few years, oysters are completely guilt-free from a cruelty perspective. Due to lacking a central nervous system, some vegans now believe that it’s ok to eat oysters since they feel no pain. From this angle, oysters may just be one of the best forms of protein on the planet. (Hello, all you YP carb-counters!)
If you have yet to indulge in this fun and fascinating trend, we encourage you to get on board and give oysters a try. And if you happen to be in Montreal, Maestro Svp or the Montreal Oysterfest (starting Sept. 8) would both be superb places to start.
Top photo courtesy Maestro SVP