Sunday, September 13, 2009

The world is my oyster. Er, no thanks if it's alright with you.

As part of my ongoing campaign to develop a more sophisticated palate, I tried something new yesterday: an oyster. I've never really fancied oysters, having heard some vomit worthy descriptions of the taste that I cannot repeat here. Also I've never really fancied the idea of eating something whole that's, oh horror, still alive!!! Woody Allen puts it pithily: "I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead - not sick, not wounded - dead."

However I was at the Woburn Oyster Festival with J and it seemed only right that I should try my first oyster. J bought me one for the princely sum of £1.50 and I held it with trepidation in its shell container and braced myself for chucking it down my throat. The first couple of attempts were failures as I just couldn't bear to put it to my lips, let alone open my mouth.

Then J suggested I open my mouth and he slip the oyster in. Conscious of the expense and the much vaunted aphrodisiac properties of oysters, I let it slip into my open mouth and then on J's instructions chewed before the swallow. Except I didn't swallow, the unpleasant texture and odd taste was too much for me. Aphrodisiacs they may be but I would hazard a guess that J didn't feel at all turned on when I spat a half masticated oyster into his hand. This was followed by much grimacing and frankly unladylike behaviour.

I keep wondering if my reaction was more to do with the fact that I knew it was an oyster. If someone had told me it was a salty mushroom would I have been so averse to eating it? According to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, oysters are the gourmet's Marmite (I love Marmite but I know what he's saying).

Old Hugh reckons a bit of flattery will get oyster haters to love them, for instance telling them how sexy they are going to look eating them. Right yeh! Furthermore he suggests - well I never - cooking them!

Actually, I don't care if they're cooked or raw, that's the last oyster that's ever going to pass my lips unless I accidentally swallow one swimming in the sea. Oh and for the record, oysters are in the list of top foods for causing food poisoning. I rest my case.

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