Perhaps oysters are considered an aphrodisiac BECAUSE of the way that Casanova claimed to share them with a lover:
“I placed the shell on the edge of her lips and after a good deal of laughing, she sucked in the oyster, which she held between her lips. I instantly recovered it by placing my lips on hers.”-Casanova
No wonder he’s still a romantic legend; imagine a dozen oysters the Casanova way..the second course might burn in the oven. Oysters are actually packed with zinc which is actually said to increase the libido in men, so perhaps Casanova had it right when he claimed to start off each day with 50 oysters for breakfast.
But if we are being honest, it isn’t really the zinc content that makes this mollusk sexy is it? The oyster invokes the sultry imagination with the entire sensory experience. Its soft, silver body laying vulnerably atop the interior of a hard, grisly shell makes me think of the contrast between the sexes; or maybe just the contrast between the self we show the world and the self we show our lover. Whichever, as the raw oyster lays outstretched, it calls to mind the feminine body, fecund and open.
Then there is the actual experience of eating a raw oyster. The act of slurping an oyster out of its shell is almost like a shy invitation, bit by bit, the oyster is invited into my maw. The contrasting textures of an oyster in your mouth, strong yet yielding, causes pause..and allows you but a moment of intimacy with the oyster.
So eating oysters is full of folklore and sex. Sharing a dozen oysters together with your lover is sure to create some erotic tension. Sounds like a great Valentine’s treat to me. It also meets our requirements on all fronts, even shucking isn’t too difficult once you get the groove and they are relatively simple to prepare afterwards.
- food must be sexy to eat, share or look at. you know, the food that gets the blood flowing, makes you think about what happens next…
- food must not make you stinkafter eating it. Garlic and asparagus, not sexy. At all.
- food must be somewhat easy to prepare: as someone who expresses love through food, I enjoy cooking for Valentine’s Day, BUT, I would not like to stand in the kitchen all night.
- Bonus points for indulgence: if its hard to get, you don’t eat it regularly or its a calorie buster, it gets bonus points.
Raw oysters, for me, are a celebratory “must”. My favorite is with a little horseradish and a splash of lemon. Sometimes I give the Tabasco a toss. Simple. Clean. Elegant.
What to drink with oysters? Many people love to drink Champagne or sparkling wine, swearing that the texture of the oysters matches perfectly with
bubbles. Muscadet or Riesling are popular suggestions as well, but those wines are just too sweet for my oysters. For my next adventure, I’m going with the recommendations of the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Festival, and the 132 food and wine experts who judge wine solely on its match with oysters; their fave’s seem to be Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pino Grigio.
But if you aren’t a fan of raw oysters, give the much loved Oysters Rockafeller a try. To be fair, no one really knows the recipe as the developer Jules Alciatore of Antoine’s in New Orleans is said to have taken the exact recipe to the grave. But today the chef’s at Antoine’s continue to serve Oysters Rockefeller as do many other restaurants guessing at the unique blend of vegetables. Here is a reciepe though to follow if you are looking to make your own:
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
- 1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup of capers
- 3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 pound (about) rock sea salt
- 24 fresh oysters, shucked, shells reserved
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Finely chop garlic in processor. Add spinach, watercress, green onions and capers to garlic. Process, using on/off turns, until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Combine butter, breadcrumbs, Pernod, fennel and hot sauce in processor. Process until well blended. Return spinach mixture to processor. Process, using on/off turns, just until mixtures are blended. Season with salt and pepper.(Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)
Sprinkle rock salt over large baking sheet to depth of 1/2 inch. Arrange oysters in half shells atop rock salt. Top each oyster with 1 tablespoon spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until spinach mixture browns on top, about 8 minutes.
-Original recipe from Epicurious.com
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