National Oyster Day

August 5 is National Oyster Day. For any of you who love oysters and live near New Orleans, there is good news. Several restaurants there are selling raw oysters for fifty cents apiece that day. Here’s the link  to which places are participating. If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer and want to learn the technique for shucking an oyster, there is a link on that page to learn that as well. Good luck with that! According to the Huffington Post, “As one of the only foods that humans eat alive, oysters may not be for every palate. Still, humans slurp tons of them down with Champagne (naturally) year after year.”

As far as oysters go, there are over 100 species. Oysters take on the characteristics of the water where they live, so flavors vary widely. The largest oyster-producing body of water is Chesapeake Bay on the east coast of the US.

People have been eating oysters pretty much since human beings began. Piles of shells have been found that have been dated to 6950 BCE. Can you imagine being the first person to try an oyster? They don’t exactly look like something wonderful to chow down on.

Oysters have the reputation of being an aphrodisiac (which is why many people eat them, I’m guessing), and apparently there is some truth to that, as they contain an amino acid that triggers increasing levels of sex hormones.

Pearls in oysters are generally found in oysters farmed for that purpose, so don’t expect to find one in your oyster at a restaurant.


Quotes about oysters

All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.–Federico Fellini

…oysters are the only food that never causes indigestion.–Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea)

The man who doesn’t like oysters, the woman who cannot abide sardines. We know the type.–Harold Nicolson

Oysters are the most tender and delicate of all seafoods. The stay in bed all day and night. They never work or take exercise, are stupendous drinkers, and wait for their meals to come to them.–Hector Bolitho

I prefer my oysters fried;
That way I know my oysters died.
Roy Blount, Jr.

I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick, not wounded, dead.–Woody Allen

He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating of oysters.–James I of England

Oysters are more beautiful than any religion… There’s nothing in Christianity or Buddhism that quite matches the sympathetic unselfishness of an oyster.–Saki

Some feel as though the world is their oyster; others feel as though they were the oyster itself, plucked from the ocean, cracked open, and robbed of all that is precious to them.–Joseph B. Wirthlin

Why, then the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open.–William Shakespeare (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

An oyster, that marvel of delicacy, that concentration of sapid excellence, that mouthful before all other mouthfuls, who first had faith to believe it, and courage to execute? the exterior is not persuasive.–Henry Ward Beecher

What’s so great about the world being your oyster? Does that mean it’s really hard to open, and when you do, you have something slimy and gross on the inside?–Anne ursu

And a couple of stanzas from The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll:
A loaf of bread, the Walrus said,
Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed–
Now if you’re ready, Oysters, dear,
We can begin to feed!

O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

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