Months that End in R: Enjoying Oyster Season
An old saying states that oysters should only be eaten in months ending with the letter “R,” a tradition based on the thinking that oysters taste best and are safest to eat in the colder months. While this idea comes from the days before refrigeration, when warmer weather meant more likelihood of serving spoiled oysters, it also has to do with what is going on in the oceans where oysters live. From May to August, oyster beds in the waters of the Northern Hemisphere warm up and oysters spawn. This makes them a lot more watery and less tasty.
As Fall and Winter arrive, the waters cool, oysters settle down, and oyster-eating season is upon us. All oysters should be eaten preferably as soon as they are shucked, or within a few hours of shucking if kept cold and iced. They should taste fresh and light. On the half-shell, they are delicious with just a squeeze of lemon or a tiny drizzle of vodka.
If you get a chance to drive up any part of the Pacific Northwestern coastline, you will find roadside stops that serve up oysters in the most delicious ways. Oysters of many varieties are dressed up with a traditional French Mignonette sauce made of vinegar and shallots. Oysters Rockefeller with herbs, garlic, butter and breadcrumbs taste rich and decadent. As a finale, a coastal oyster meal is best capped off with smoky barbeque oysters, accompanied by a cold beer or glass of champagne.
Photo: Denise Chan
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