28 December 2009

A Passion For Oysters

We have found ways to use our holiday leftovers and now we are heading into the festive New Year. What a great time to look at wonderful, celebratory recipes.

I have a passion for oysters. I ate my fist raw oysters as a child in a dark and dreamy restaurant whose walls were covered in red damask. It was a dinner with my parents and a long lost friend of my Fathers. His friend had a flashy Jaguar fitted with a television in the back seat and a lovely son slight older than I. The son and I road in the back of the Jaguar watching television. At the restaurant, we ordered raw oysters and I was convinced that they were the finest food known to man… and attractive boys.

Later that year, we were visiting my godparents on the Mississippi coast. I was absolutely mad to have raw oysters again. In the bright sunlight, in the middle of the afternoon, alone with my parents, I must confess that the oysters had lost a bit of their charm. But soon I recovered and raw oysters are a favorite.

Shirly Line wrote A Passion For Oysters. The slim book is written for the British market, offering detailed descriptions of “British Oysters.” There are obligatory oyster “facts” and lovely recipes.

This simple recipe is a British favorite. It is accompanied by this “fun fact.”

It would seem that Lord Cavendish, the former owner of Burlington House, built the Burlington Arcade. Far from being a merely architectural creation, the Arcade had an expressed purpose – to keep passers-by from throwing oyster shell into his garden.

Oysters on Toast

oysters, as many as you like
25-40 g/1 to 1 1/2 oz unsalted butter, per 12 oysters
2 slices of bread, or more or less as desired
lemon wedges (optional)

Open the oysters, reserving the liquor. Melt the butter in a frying pan and toss in the oysters. Stir-fry for no more than 40 seconds, depending on the size of the oysters. Do not overcook. Toast the bread. Using a slotted spoon, remove the oysters from the pan and pile them on the toast. Pour the reserved oyster liquor into the pan, swirling it into the butter. Pour over the oysters and enjoy. A lemon wedge adds a little extra je ne sais quoi, but it is the perfect compliment to any oyster.

A great amuse-bouche for the New Year, but remember, don’t throw the shells into anyone’s garden.

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