Oysters may or may not cause people to fall in love with each other, but there are a good many folks who have fallen in love with oysters themselves. In this feature, the owner of Montreal's popular seafood and oyster bar, Maestro S.V.P., entertains with a bit of oyster history and trivia, then addresses the most important topics surrounding oysters: how to eat them and what to drink with them. Finally, Ilene Polansky shares her tips for creating your own "Oyster Party"—a perfect event for Valentine's Day or a Mardi Gras celebration, New Orleans-style.
by Ilene Polansky
Oysters, best known for their reputed aphrodisiac powers, have been a favorite of food lovers throughout the centuries, beginning with the Roman emperors who paid for them by their weight in gold.
Oysters have always been linked with love. When Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sprang forth from the sea on an oyster shell and promptly gave birth to Eros, the word "aphrodisiac" was born. The dashing lover Casanova also used to start a meal eating 12 dozen oysters.
Oysters have been an important food since the Neolithic period and were cultivated long before the Christian era. The Greeks served them with wine and the Romans were so enthusiastic about these marvelous mollusks that they sent thousands of slaves to the shores of the English channel to gather them.
Oysters au natural are best served simply with crushed ice and seaweed. Fresh lemon juice or Worcestershire sauces are both good accompaniments. There are also two classic sauces to be served with raw oysters. The first is a mignonette sauce with shallots and vinegar and the second is a chili sauce. Oysters may also be cooked in many ways, such as poaching, marinating, frying, grilling or baked. Some of the favorite recipes served at Maestro S.V.P. are in the list below.
This page modified February 2007
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