1. The oldest discovered oysters are 164,000 years old. Mollusk leaves were found in Pinnacle Point, a South African cave. And this is not an only case: archaeologists find oyster shells on the sites of primitive people in Europe, Asia, Africa, and in both Americas. It is interesting that according to these discoveries, the ancient Europeans ate raw oysters in the sixth millennium BC. At the same time, prehistoric Indians used to bake closed shells.
2. Depending on the shape, oyster shells are divided into flat and cup-shaped. Flat oysters have historically been the main species on the Atlantic coast from Norway to North Africa. But in 1920, an epidemic killed 80% of the population. To rescue oyster farming in the 1970s, Europeans bought Spat (young) Pacific Oyster in Japan. Its shell is deep, concave, the clam seems to lie in a small cup. Nowadays, in French, British, Irish and Dutch farms, mainly these oysters are bred, and the flat ones have become a great delicacy. The French oysters Belon are famous for their nutty flavor.
3. It is a real art to open the oyster properly. At the moment of gathering, a fresh mollusk closes the shell and can keep it tightly closed for about two weeks. To open the oyster, you need to penetrate the shell with a special knife and cut the muscle. It is important not to crush the shell and not to damage the mollusk itself. It is said that a well-open oyster should look as if it had not guessed that the upper flap had already been removed from it. Such work requires certain skills.
4. Every year in the Irish city of Galway, the World Oyster Discovery Championship is held. People from all over the world compete in the skill and speed of opening the shells. In 2018, Estonian Anti Lepic won the championship. His final result is 30 oysters in 2 minutes and 26 seconds. Not everyone during this time can flawlessly open even one shell. By the way, Anti became the world champion for the fourth time in a row, beating the strongest competitors from the USA, Japan, and Scandinavian countries.
5. Inside the shell, along with the clam, there is sea water, which is called an oyster liqueur. The first water is usually poured out when opening. In a few minutes, an oyster gives the second water. It is softer and may be drunk with oyster.
6. Oysters should not be cut. Whatever large oyster you choose, do not cut it with a knife or break it up with a fork. Do not put the oyster onto the fork, too. Carefully separate the clam from the shell wall to keep it maximally intact. Oyster is same as caviar or grapes: the beauty is to get to the core, without losing a drop of juice.
7. How to eat oysters. Oyster lovers have different preferences. Purists, that is, champions of the pure product, prefer oysters without any seasonings and even without lemon. Connoisseurs of European classics like oysters with lemon and vinegar sauce with shallots. Classic American style – an oyster with grated horseradish or a drop of Tabasco. Adventurers always want to add some bright toppings to their oysters – mango cubes with chili pepper, cucumber granite or pickled ginger with mirin and soy sauce.
8. Oyster forks were invented by the British at the end of the XVIII century. Prior to that, even at royal dinners, oysters were eaten without appliances, simply drinking over the edge of a shell. By the end of the 19th century, the oyster fork became indispensable cutlery. Eating an oyster without it was considered indecent. Now the role of an oyster fork is auxiliary. It is mainly used to separate the mollusk from the shell wall.
9. Oysters are rich in protein, low in calories, contain many beneficial substances for the body (iodine, zinc, calcium, iron, copper). Vitamins and minerals in the composition of the meat of the mollusk have a beneficial effect on the nervous, cardiovascular and endocrine systems.
10. The oldest recipe for cooking oysters is called “Rockefeller”. The recipe for oysters, baked with a sauce of green vegetables and herbs, was invented by the owner of the restaurant “At Antoine” in New Orleans 130 years ago. Since then, the original list of ingredients is kept in strict confidence, and chefs are trying to solve the mystery and cook a similar dish. The restaurant is still successfully exploiting the myth of the secret recipe and originality of Rockefeller oysters. It is claimed that the millionth portion was sold in 1938, and to date, the bill comes to five million Rockefellers. The dish is so popular that in the United States, there is a holiday – the day of the Rockefeller oysters. It is celebrated annually on January 10th.