Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Feb 6, 2008 11:25 AM

Chew or Swallow Oysters

My first oyster experience was very intimidating... a co-worker ordered some for the table so I felt obligated to try one. So down it goes with some lemon juice, cocktail sauce and no chewing and I'm thinking... why the heck did I just do that. I tasted the lemon and the cocktail sauce and it was good but the meat of the bite wasn't tasted and just swallowed. Maybe I could've swished it around or something but I wasn't sure what to do with it.

Moving forward, I went to another oyster joint with the significant other and she ordered some. Following her lead I had a few (still hesitant) but I chewed them and then I really started to appreciate them for their crisp clean ocean-y flavor. Now I chew them and I love them, small and raw is preferred but small ones at Christmas time fried up are another favorite (family tradition).

So reading some old post I see some people are adamant that you swallow them whole without chewing. I'll probably continue to chew them but if it is a faux pas, perhaps I'd consider being more "polite" in certain situations.

Maybe there are two schools of thought on this and there isn't much reason to argue what is right but I'm curious what the general consensus is...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: E Eto

      I didn't get to that one actually... thanks for the link

    2. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING that an individual does to optimize their enjoyment of a particular food (within the bounds of civility) should be considered a faux-pas. So don't even ask - just enjoy them the way you want. If your dining partners seem put off by this, then stop. I don't mean stop eating oysters your way. Stop eating with them.

      3 Replies
      1. re: HSBSteveM

        Agreed, by all means slurp, chew, cook, and add whatever sauces you like (thouigh I prefer raw oysters without any flavour enhancers).

        1. re: HSBSteveM

          Very well put. And how are you supposed to taste anything if you're not gonna chew?

          1. A friend asked a very classy looking elderly lady from New Orleans whether oysters should be chewed and her reply was, "Young man, cultured people always chew their food."

            1 Reply
            1. re: ddavis

              I just returned from a charity event that was a oyster tasting and wine pairing sampler. It was limited to 70 people (although, I would swear there were more). After reading this post earlier in the day, I decided to eat and observe. I LOVE oysters and would never considring swallowing whole (what's the point?). From what I could see, most people do chew. I didn't actually see anyone just swallowing, but then again, I was pretty busy eating. I would say, do whatever you like and enjoy!!! I don't think there are any rules in oyster eating.

            2. The beauty of enjoying oyster includes both the flavor and the texture. Swallowing without the pit stop of chewing sorta defeats the purpose of the wonderful morsel. you will miss how some are more briney than others, how the texture of some are like melting brie while others are more dense, or the wonderful smell of the brine that accompanies the oysters if shucked properly. As yu can see jfood highly recommends the chew versus the swallow. But if you enjoy the swallow versus chew that's your choice, but give the chew a try once you feel comfortable. Good oysters make for a great meal all by themselves.

              1 Reply
              1. "As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
                Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast