Today’s post by our chef, Ingrid of Edible Tapestry | @Edible Tapestry
We love how our featured book club selections inspire these recipes each month. And how perfect that THE PERFUME COLLECTOR was the impetus behind such a classy meal. Of course it’s no surprise, really. The book is classy as well.
Yes, “they look like something one would avoid stepping on in the street”, as Grace so honestly put it in The Perfume Collector, but oysters on the half shell with champagne and “just a squirt of lemon”, how Monsieur Tissot preferred to eat them, were my must do choice for August’s book selection.
Auguste Escoffier, the father of modern cuisine, insisted in his 1864 A Guide to the Fine Art of French Cuisine that oysters be eaten just as Kathleen Tessaro described in her novel, The Perfume Collector. “Oysters ought to be served very cold.”, he emphasized. “In France and in the United States they are left in the hollow half which is better calculated to retain the natural liquor of the oyster.”
Apparently, as Monsieur Tissot prompted Grace to do, one tilts the head back and allows the squishy mollusk to slide right down the throat before slithering into the belly.
I can appreciate the beauty of the dish, the tradition of eating them in this manner, but I just don’t have the stomach to down raw oysters. The ones pictured were promptly taken from their shells and dredged in flour. Fried oysters happen to be one of my favorite dishes. But for anyone who isn’t “too English” and wishes to be as culinarily adventuresome as Grace was under Monsieur Tissot’s encouragement, here is the method for preparing and serving Edouard and Grace’s “Bourgeois Oysters”.
You will need:
Whole oysters by the dozen
An oyster knife
A colorful garnish
Champagne (or, in my case, a cheap bottle of sparkling wine)
Hold an oyster in a towel, rounded shell down, flat shell up.
Slide the oyster knife into the crack between the flat and rounded shells. When the seal is broken and a gap is made, twist the knife to separate them further.
Slide the tip of the knife under the adductor muscle where it attaches to the upper, flat shell. Remove the top shell. To loosen the oyster from the bottom shell, scoop the knife under it to separate, leaving the oyster to lie in in its juices in the bowl-shaped shell.
Arrange shucked oysters on a bed of ice to keep them chilled, around a center garnish and lemon wedges. Serve with chilled champagne.
Question: Are you brave enough to try raw oysters? Do tell!