MYTHILO VOL. 17 // OYSTERS
If you haven't experienced it yourself, you might think it's just a phrase, but literature really does inspire you to cook. For this article, not only the exchange with the Swiss cooking talent Lorenz Graf - whose creations impress me deeply - but also a book was a source of inspiration: Paul Auster - The Art of Hunger.
In it, Auster asks whether there is a compulsion to write and whether - if so - the great works of world literature differ from all other books in that they had to be written. If you are looking for an answer to this question, I am sorry to disappoint you. The Oyster is a diva and deserves full attention!
But one thing is certain: Paul Auster's book about the art of hunger inspired me to devote myself to Oysters. Was it a compulsion? Hard to say, maybe it was just hunger. In any case, this article is different from all the other articles written about oysters. Promise!
When one begins to explore the topic of oysters, the first fundamental question that arises is why should one slurp a mélange of oyster meat, lemon, and seawater at all?
This cult delicacy has fascinated people for centuries. Actually, longer than that, considering that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, sprang from a shell and the oyster is said to have an aphrodisiac effect. Zinc is said to stimulate the production of sex hormones and increase testosterone levels. No wonder the inventor of polygamy - Giacomo Casanova - ate 50 oysters for breakfast.
Whether oysters have an aphrodisiac effect has never been scientifically confirmed. It's quite possible that it was simply due to the champagne because it certainly couldn't convince with its fishy breath alone. But myths - like oysters - should be enjoyed and not questioned. So, it's quite possible that Casanova had one or the other Arielle on his hook. Love knows no boundaries!
I first really fell in love with oysters via the Netflix series Mad Man. As a former advertiser, I felt a deep connection to the characters on the show and watching them treat themselves to two dozen oysters and a bottle of champagne after a successful pitch made oysters seem like a way to be even closer to them, because I never got served oysters at Jung von Matt, Advico Young & Rubicam, or Wunderman Thompson. Not because there was nothing to celebrate but unlike the 50's, I lacked the time to do so in the 50-hour work week. So, if any dropouts are looking for a startup idea: Oyster delivery service with 10% discount for ADC-members.
I have great understanding that oysters for breakfast are not everyone's cup of tea. But when is the right occasion, when is the right time for oysters?
There are many reasons to eat oysters - a winning pitch, loneliness, attention deficit, love of the sea, the right six crosses on the lottery ticket.... There are many reasons to eat oysters, but more important than the occasion is the timing: if the month does not contain an "R", the oyster stays closed - that's the rule. There are several theories about the origin of this "R" rule. Keeping the cold chain during the warm summer months seems the most plausible to me. With the Bavarian Weisswurst it behaves similarly: No “Zuzeln” after twelve o'clock! Since there were no refrigerators in Casanova's day and oysters - like sausage - are perishable, they should always be served fresh. So, anyone who eats oysters in July or a Weisswurst at two in the afternoon these days is cheating fate.
It seems to me that the date is even more important than the time. Oyster lovers should therefore mark August 5 in their calendars so that it is clearly visible. You should really see it clearly - at least more clearly than the "R" in August!? The National Oyster Day is mainly celebrated in the USA, but in August you are well advised to escape from the stuffy city and enjoy the sea breeze in the Hamptons - the pearl of the East Coast.
Now let's dare a change of perspective: how does the oyster live with our preference for seafood?
We cannot avoid addressing the "barbaric" act of eating oysters. Is the consumption of live oysters justifiable at all, or to put it another way: Would Aristotle, as the founding father of ethics, eat oysters?
Marine biology gives the all-clear here: oysters do not have a brain, and to feel pleasant or unpleasant emotions, they would need one. This could also explain why so few corona deniers felt neither shame nor symptoms. But before the facade of our editorial office receives a new colorful coloring by color bags, as one can admire it otherwise only with the snorkeling on Galapagos, we turn again to the oysters.
Now that biology has given us absolution to eat oysters, let's turn to the opening procedure.
Just as we humans lock our front doors, the oyster seeks protection from "burglars" within its hard shell. To get into Oyster's home, hungry thieves first need the right tools: an oyster knife - ideally from the traditional forge Laguiole en Aubrac - and a chain glove. The use of these utensils alone makes eating oysters a spectacle.
What would the gladiator have been happy if he had been allowed to wear such a chain glove in the last fight. History would have been rewritten. Maximus would have been given a second chance in front of an audience of millions, millions of fans would have been given a second part and Ridley Scott would have been given another double-digit million amount. It is not called "The world is your Oyster" for nothing - everyone has his own life in his hands and with a chain glove and 50 oysters for breakfast you will make it to the top as "Maximus Ostreum"!
Now that even the last doubter might feel like slurping down a dozen of these delicacies, there is one last question - provided your credit card is covered : Where?
Well, that depends on various factors. But we have tried to make a wide selection that considers every taste and budget, and even vegetarians.
If you're one of those people who fished off a decent amount of Oyster Coins in December 2017 and spat them out four weeks later, you're probably spending National Oyster Day in your 12-room Hamptons mansion. If so, I recommend for the oyster feast the Restaurant "Mirazur" of the Argentine Mauro Colagreco at the Côte d'Azur. It currently tops the list of the world's 50 best restaurants and will serve you a single Gillardeau oyster decorated with small white tapioca pearls, bluish-purple flowers and a cylinder of pear jelly. One can only speculate about the cost of this delicacy but for someone like you, who got rich from "Oyster": a weary smile plus a tip. http://www.mirazur.fr
However, for those who - like the author - have to write about oysters in order to afford surimi sticks, Zurich's "Berta Bar" on the street of the same name offers a great neighborhood atmosphere and wild oysters from the grill every Wednesday. The Berta Bar is truly a pearl and worth a visit with or without oysters! https://www.bertabar.ch
Have you eliminated animals from your diet - with the exception of Red Bull? No problem. Normads' plant-based "oysters" are a highlight not only visually, but also in terms of taste. If you'd like to try them out, I can recommend Hofkino Zurich, where Normads offers their purely plant-based delicacies on a daily basis. https://www.nomadszuerich.ch
So let's conclude: oysters are the epitome of a delicate delicacy. The humble sea dwellers have fascinated us for thousands of years and have a magical attraction. To us and to others. So would you like to end the suffering of your lonely single existence without having to suffer an oyster for it? Eat it! Casanova would say: "Se non è vero, è ben trovato". Oysters save our love life, oysters satisfy our hunger for fame, oysters let us move up a caste by eating them. What would we do without oysters as an "invisible hand"!
Now it's up to us - oysters are available around the clock, and around the globe in every price range - new for vegetarians too. Who is overwhelmed with this large selection, should completely do without oysters and save the money for a Rolex Oyster like me!