by Patricia Mack
Today, August 5, 2013 is National Oyster Day with festivities coast-to-coast celebrating one of the ugliest yet alluring critters in all creation.
No one is quite sure when the oyster got its own holiday (in New York City the whole week is devoted to celebration), but enthusiasm for the odd creature has been constant since prehistoric days.
There are more than 100 varieties of the species, which tend to be named for the bays and waterways where they thrive. And while the day commemorates the wondrous taste that can range from sweet to salty, buttery to metallic, there’s another reason to rejoice and that’s for the good work of the bay men who harvest and cultivate these mollusks despite diminished habitat, bivalve disease, predators and natural disasters.
Take a look at the long list of oyster goings-on around the country at www.nationaloysterday.com.
If you’re not near one of the festivals, have your own celebration at a restaurant where oysters are served or at home on your own. Here are five easy ways to enjoy oysters:
1. Place freshly opened oysters in a two-inch deep serving dish filled with crushed ice sprinkled with fresh rosemary. Raise juicy shell to lips and slurp — chew oyster once or twice, swallow.
2. Serve freshly opened oysters with mignonette sauce on the side. To make mignonette sauce: combine ¾ cup tarragon vinegar with finely diced bits of shallot and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Dunk oyster, eat.
3. Arrange oysters on the half shell on an oyster dish or platter. Top with a little grated fresh ginger and a splash of lime juice.
4. Drain two dozen large oysters and blot with a paper towel. Roll in a mixture of yellow cornmeal and flour (¼ cup each), then dip into egg beaten with a bit of water and oyster liquid. Roll again in cornmeal mix. Deep fry until golden. Drain. Serve with a small bowl of sour cream topped with caviar (if you are flush and festive) or minced scallion (if you’re not).
5. Place an oyster into a shot glass. Add a teaspoon of hot sauce and horseradish to taste. Fill glass with vodka. Down the hatch.
Buy fresh oysters on Amazon.com
Oyster entry on Wikipedia
World Oyster Society website
How to Shuck Oysters on GAYOT.com
Oysters on the Top 10 Romantic Foods on GAYOT.com
Pairing Wine with Oysters on GAYOT.com
You can click on each picture to enlarge.