‘We’re all going to die!’ screamed the Daily Mail headline warning us of the dangers of eating oysters. Well okay it didn’t quite say that but their general gist was that oysters were very bad for you indeed.
Piffle, balderdash and a fluffy finger up to that, as Stephen Fry might say. Oysters are lovely and oysters from reputable suppliers are as safe as safe can be, having been purified before they get to us.
So forget the scare stories and cuddle up to an oyster or six, it’s one of life’s greatest eating pleasures and an example of how simple can so often be the very best. Lift the lid on a briny bivalve and tip it into your mouth, bite gently to release the flavour and then swallow. No, Stephen Fry did not say that, although he might.
Colin Pressdee is an oyster aficionado as well as a fine foodie. He was born in the town of Oystermouth, an oyster fishing village dating back to the Romans, so it was perhaps inevitable he’d be a mollusc muncher all his life. Indeed he once opened a restaurant called the Oyster Perches.
This book, created together with the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, looks at over 150 restaurants, bars, markets, merchants, retailers and producers to be a definitive guide to getting your oyster fix in London. From an intro that explains the difference between Native and Pacific, the seasons for oysters, how to open them (easier than you think) it goes all the way on to how to present them. But why bother when so many restaurants will serve up a glistening plate for you?
And so Colin is off, exploring all areas of London for the best of the briniest. Clear address details, nearest tube station and brief description of the restaurant make the guide easy to use. Each restaurant entry also carries a price guide and suggestion for wine.
As you eat your oyster, pull the book out of your pocket and mug up on the author’s guide to the different styles and tastes offered by the various UK oyster producers; they are all very unique and terroir shines through. And if you do buy a bag to take home, there are recipes in the book to make the most of them. While any oyster eater will tell you raw is best, simply slipped from the shell, there are cooked oyster recipes in the book that offer unusual and interesting pleasures.
If you are already an oyster eater, then this book sells itself. If you are still, as some people amazingly are, horrified by the thought of oysters then perhaps Colin’s infectious enthusiasm will encourage you to give an oyster a go. Packed with goodness, undoubtedly good for you and very much a UK product to be proud of, oysters open up a whole new world of taste and pleasure.