Oysters have been a favorite of food lovers and romantics throughout the centuries. The oyster has maintained a timeless mystique when it comes to passion. When Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sprang forth from the sea on an oyster shell and promptly gave birth to Eros, the word "aphrodisiac" was born. Roman emperors literally paid for them by their weight in gold. The dashing lover Casanova also started his evening meal by eating dozens of oysters.
The oyster's own love life is an interesting one. A single oyster can incubate up to one million larvae and may do so more than once a year. Some oysters repeatedly change their gender from male to female and back again, giving rise to claims that the oyster lets one experience both the masculine and feminine sides of love.
It's a long-standing belief that eating oysters, especially raw, will increase your libido. Is there fact behind the fiction? Oysters may have gained their reputation at a time when their contribution of vitamins and minerals to nutritionally deficient diets of the day could improve overall health, and so led to an increased sex drive.
Oysters do contain dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to govern brain activity and influence sexual desire in men and women. The passions produced from raw oysters, some have suggested, is linked to high levels of zinc and complex sugars and proteins.
Like all shellfish, oysters contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. Romance aside, oysters can contribute to a healthy, balanced diet. Like all shellfish, oysters are low in calories and saturated fats, and are also excellent sources of protein and contain omega-3 fatty acids. Like fish, shellfish contribute to health by providing essential minerals and vitamins such as iron, zinc, copper and vitamin B 12.
From Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating
Raw oysters are best when expertly shucked and served on a bed of crushed ice. Fresh lemon juice and freshly grated horseradish root will compliment the natural oyster flavours best, while Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces are also good accompaniments. There are also two classic sauce types to be served with raw oysters: The first is a mignonette sauce with shallots and vinegar and the second is your choice of hot sauce.
To eat, bring the broad end of the oyster to your lips using your thumb and middle finger, leaving your index free to push the delicious bivalve out of it's shell and into your waiting mouth. Take time to chew and taste before swallowing. Enjoy!