I didn’t eat my first raw oyster until 15 years ago. March 26, 1998, to be exact. I don’t normally remember stuff like that, but this was a very special occasion. My friend Don, who is a food journalist, invited me to go to a special dinner he’d been invited to, and the guest of honour was one of my food heroes–Graham Kerr. I know all of this, because I went super fangirl, and brought my copy of Graham’s cookbook for him to autograph, and I still have all the menus in the back of that book.
And I have this.
Now, I grew up in Newfoundland, where there was tons of seafood, from all kinds of fish (like salmon and cod) to shellfish (like lobster and crab) to a very popular tiny, sardine-like fish called capelin. Mussels grew on the beach. But bivalves were something we didn’t eat a lot of, and I had certainly never had them raw (Don also introduced me to sushi) until I moved back to Vancouver.
I have to say, that night was a revelation. Many people who have never eaten a raw oyster before fear that it will be slimy and fishy, but they are anything but. They taste fresh, like how you imagine sea air might taste. There are many options for garnishing a raw oyster, from hot sauce to mignonette, but I like it plain and simple, with a squeeze of lemon, the best.
I’ve been hanging out at the new Chewie’s Oyster and Steam Bar in Coal Harbour a lot lately. Not only is it a few blocks from my house, but my friend Charles is the new manager there. So, I asked him if he could get one of his staff to teach me how to shuck an oyster, and he happily obliged.
Oysters, by the way, are incredibly good for you. They are high in zinc and magnesium, as well as vitamins A, B, C and D.
They are also purported to have aphrodisiac qualities. Do they?? Watch and find out…