During a spirited round of 'what would you' at the dinner table this week, I was asked how I would spend my last day on earth and particularly, what I would eat (we play this game a lot at home since we've banned gadgets at the dinner table and one must entertain the diners or else my kiddos wolf down their dinner and try to make a mad dash for their phones, lest they miss something terribly important). I had to think long and hard about my last days schedule but the meal part came easy, a little bit of all my favourites and a whole lot of oysters.
I LOVE oysters and I recommend that they be tried at least once, even if it's only on a dare. You'd be surprised that most people with a preconceived notion that oysters are not for them, usually turn out to be the most ardent fans but they can be tricky to handle, especially if it's your first time. Good oysters should look full in the shell and have an opaque consistency. If they smell bad, it's probably because they are, so take a pass on that one and move on to the next. If you are having oysters in a casual setting, go at them anyway you like (it adds to the fun) but in a more formal setting, there's a better way to handle yourself around the oyster bar.
If you're served oysters on the half shell, hold the shell with one hand and using your other hand, take the tiny shellfish fork provided and move the oyster around a little in its liquid-filled shell to make sure it's detached, then use your fork to spear the oyster.
The oyster/shellfish fork is a small utensil made with three short wide curved tines, approximately 4 inches in length and should be the only fork found on the right side of the plate.
The left tine is usually a little wider to assist in cutting the membrane that connects the oyster to the shell. If a shellfish fork has not been provided, use the smallest fork that you can find on the left side of your plate.
The oyster can be eaten on it's own (the oyster's liquid is beyond delicious!) or can be dipped into any of the condiments or sauces provided. You might be offered a selection of hot sauces, wasabi, horseradish, shallot vinegar or simple lemon wedges to use at your discretion, it's all a matter of taste (a squirt of lemon juice and a dash of black pepper is my weakness).
Using your fork, either dip the oyster into the sauce provided or give it a dash of lemon juice, wasabi, etc. and bring the meat, not the shell, to your mouth. Otherwise, you could dip the fork into the sauce first, adding some to the oyster while it's in the shell, then bring the oyster meat to your mouth. The shell should never be used as a utensil. The myth of letting the oyster slide down your mouth is just that, so chew the oyster meat a couple of times before swallowing. You may discard the empty shell on a side plate/bowl that has been provided or your may turn the shell over and place it back on the ice bed before going on to the next oyster.