These days it seems you can’t stroll down a chic neighborhood block without tripping over an oyster bar. But if you’ve been sucking down the little critters smugly feeling at the pinnacle of culinary cultivation, think again. The French were cracking open these babies by the dozen long before we caught on and they have news for us: we’re doing it wrong (again).
“Oysters are fashionable in the US but they’re not cleaned correctly, or they’ve been emptied too much, or they’re served too cold,” says Mireille Guiliano, author of Meet Paris oysters, a love affair with the perfect food. If you think her voice sounds familiar then maybe you’ve read one of her other be-better-be-French guides French Women Don’t Get Fat or French Women Don’t Get Facelifts. “People often eat [oysters] any which way. With this book I’ve tried to give a tips that are simple and not too intimidating.
First of all, to clear up any doubt: oysters are very French. “Parisians adore oysters,” writes Guiliano, and France produces and consumes more oysters than any other European country. Want to get in on some of that Parisian elegance? Lunch on a dozen raw oysters sprinkled only with fresh lemon and have handy a slice of bread slathered with salted butter and a glass of Sancerre.
Written in the first person and with her signature flair, Guiliano covers all the essentials in her entertaining guide to the flavorful mollusks. Learn the characteristics of various oysters, what flavors to expect and how to describe them. Learn how to buy them, how to open them, and of course, how to eat them, “Hold the shell parallel in front of your lips and with a small fork slide it into your mouth and suck the juice,” she writes, “Or more simply, tip the shell and suck the oyster in. Chew two or three times so that the flavor explodes onto your palette, and swallow.”
Tasty, elegant, and, as it turns out, the oysters are also extremely good for you. “It’s a miracle food,” explains Guiliano, “Anti-oxidant, low-calorie, and rich in protein, vitamins, iron and magnesium. If you eat a dozen a week you’ll be good all year!” Of course, what would a book about oysters be without covering their reputation as an aphrodisiac? A food doesn’t get more French than that.