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Oysters on the half shell - what's the appeal?

Ok, I don't get it. Please enlighten me. I tried raw oysters on the half shell for the first time the other night. Tried to follow the advice of those in my party who had had them before. Basically drained the excess liquid, tiled my head back, and swallowed. It was pretty much tasteless and flavorless. When I tried to add one of the supplied sauces, all I tasted was the sauce. So really, what is the big deal with these?

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  1. If you have areally fresh cold one, it's the unadultered taste of the ocean. There is not much these days that escapes processing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrbigshotno.1

      I agree - have to be really fresh and ice-cold. They are sooooo good.

    2. You gotta chew! And don't drain off the liquid; that's part of the experience. It's super-ocean on a shell!

      1. To begin with, you've got to like raw oysters. If you don't like the oyster flavor (including the liquor) half shell is not for you. Mnosyne is correct, don't waste the liquor, it's much of the pleasure. Beware of sauces - a little pepper, perhaps, but many sauces are on the order of the A-1's of the past, designed to mask bad flavor. I'd avoid them. I hope your next experience is more rewarding. And you do need to chew.

        1. Definitely don't drain them!
          Try again, if you don't like them, you don't like them.
          I do like some, but for the most part, I much prefer them cooked.

          1. I disliked raw oysters for most of my life, given them the 'old college try' every few years or so. While I would like the initial taste, I could never get over that briny, old seawater aftertaste.

            Well, fast forward a few years later to a seafood buffet where oysters were in abundance, and voilá -- an oyster lover was born. DEFinitely chew the oyster, and suck the liquid down. I can't handle more than a spritz of lemon on mine. I like them unadulterated.

            The fact that your oyster tasted like nothing is weird, but could be due to the fact that they are generally served on ice, and the colder a food, the less taste (IMO). Maybe it was just a very mild variety -- there can be big differences between them.


            1. Some people like it, some don't. I've had them before, but I'm not particularly fond of them. I prefer my oysters cooked.

              1. Seeing all the replies here, I wonder why all the people who supposedly knew what they were doing were telling me to drain the liquid, not to chew and just swallow. I'll definetly try including the liquid and chewing next time. I think I need to experience these the 'real' way and then judge for myself.

                5 Replies
                1. re: HastaLaPasta

                  If I had to guess I'd say they were perhaps trying to ease you into it...I agree with everyone else that the oyster likker is essential. A friend in Grande Isle LA insists on unwashed oysters which he says he has a hard time finding (And if teh FDA has its way we'll have to buy bootleg ones..that is as bad as trying to regualte crawfish fat out of the markets). I have always started novices on fried oysters or baked oysters.

                  If you want a real treat try the Grand Central Oyster Bar..get the Maine Belon oysters for only $$$$each; they are wonderful. And get oysters from cold waters. Summertime they are not as good.

                    1. re: HastaLaPasta

                      I like minimal or no hot sauce, oysters from the bays of Texas and Louisiana, and I smash them between my tounge and the roof of the mouth, with the liquor, and then chew.

                      1. re: HastaLaPasta

                        Granted I do not know your friends but if I were to make a guess I would say it is more of a fact that they simply do not know how to eat one either. Sometimes people don't do things for the taste they do it for the experience or to elevate their own presence in front of others. In my opinion a lot of people simply do not enjoy oysters, hence swallowing without tasting and applying the red menace(cocktail sauce)

                        If you want a good book that gives a good overview of oyster culture, try this.


                        As for eating them I agree with other posters, save the liquid and chew. A spritz of lemon is all that you need, you want to taste that bivalve. Go to a good seafood house/oyster bar and sample all that you can. Despite being only 2-3 different species of creature depending on who you ask the flavour profile and texture can vary a great deal. The only way to truly experience this is by trying as many as you can. Also if you travel, always smaple the locals. Good luck on your quest

                        1. re: HastaLaPasta

                          That *is* strange. Here in Louisiana and Mississippi we always chew, always drink the juices (liquor) with the oyster. I would'nt pay for something I just had to swallow whole, what's the point? Our oysters here are salty and delicious; raw oysters have their own unique flavor. Last time we were in New Orleans we had three dozen each for dinner and can't wait to go back. Our Mississippi oysters weren't nearly so good this year. I eat most of mine with lemon and pepper, but enjoy the occasional dip in the spicy red cocktail sauce. Yum. I want some now and it's 7 am!

                        2. there are also many different oysters with a great range of flavor. some i love, some i really don;t care for.....

                          1. I grew up eating raw clams...
                            My parents taught me to chew!
                            I found later that (I hate to say this really) but Non foodie -types Don't chew! They suck 'em down!
                            But to me - if you want to actually TASTE the clam (or oyster) you need to chew it!

                            The first few times I had raw oysters - I wasnt in love...it took me a while to appreciate the more delicate texture and taste. Now I adore raw oysters!

                            1. Eating raw oysters should be a treat, not a chore. When I see people drain the liquid and then replace it with sauce, I realize that they're treating it like a chore.

                              I would suggest that you try a couple different types of oysters at the same time. This should permit you a chance to taste some of the subtle nuances that distinguish one from another while also permittting you to get a sense of the basic, briney flavors.

                              1. I'm 62 years old, eat oysters and asparagus at least once a week, have a healthy sex life and never want to look at Viagra. That's why I like oysters, asparagus and chocolate too.

                                ps Chew and just use a squeeze of lemon. Make sure they have not been frozen or pasturized. Gulf oysters have th reputation of not being as tasty as other oysters.
                                If in NYC, go visit The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station and sample oysters from all over the world, tase the differences and you might change your mind.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  Re The Oyster Bar: A few years back, I went there with my dad, and he ordered a dozen oysters, all different. I gave him a major eye roll, but the shucker actually wrote out a little menu so that my dad could tell which oyster was which. And now The Oyster Bar has two customers for life.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    I looooove the Oyster Bar. Had some of the most humongous oysters of my life there. I could eat there every day.

                                    1. re: small h

                                      Since the 60's, it was custom at Christmas time for my dad to treat my best friend and me for an oyster feed at The Oyster Bar. Last time my sons were back in the US, I took them there. I've tried levitating Grand Central Station closer to Maine, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't move it closer than 3 feet.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        That's because it's below street level. First you have to slide the Met Life Building out of the way. Then The Oyster Bar will float upward, and you can shift it north. Bring it back when you're done, though, 'cause we still need it.

                                        1. re: small h

                                          Man, do I remember the The Oyster Bar is downstairs!!! It is very hard crawling up those wide marble steps when oystered and tanked.
                                          We will be back in April and on the 7 Line out to Queens!

                                  2. I think the fact that there was excess liquid was a sign that these oysters were less than as fresh as could be. After that, to swallow an oyster whole seems a waste to me as my favorite oysters have a wonderful texture that reminds me of abalone. The taste should be lovely too -- more than just the sea (I know having swallowed more than my share of seawater while swimming as a child) I must admit that when the oysters have been freshly dug, I don't bother with any sauce either -- maybe I'll squeeze on a bit of lemon if I stop eating long enough.

                                    1. I lke the little Kumamoto's from the Pacific Northwest, with just 1 drop of really good aged Balsamic. (Don't know why I started doing this, but it's amazing.)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        I never tried balsamic- but I like one drop of tabasco and a tiny amt of lemon - seems to make them sweeter..... I'll try balsamic next time. Cocktail sauce isn't made for oysters, though - covers up the flavor. But oyster crackers dipped in cocktail sauce is pretty yummy.

                                      2. I've enjoyed oysters from Washington State, the Canadian Maritimes, Massachusetts, and NOLA. All of them are unique, one-from-another because of where the ocean harvest occurs. But ALL are very, very good. Oyster eating is meant to be an experience. Approach it that way, and you might find yourself delighting in a glorious culinary find.

                                        1. Maybe you were served "pasteurized" oysters...They're everywhere..Especially on buffets etc. ~~~~~ Pasteurized = Tasteless...

                                          I think you may have figured out by now that your dinner guest were/are clueless! ~~ Next time out you can show them the ropes! A little squeeze of lemon, a speck of cocktail sauce, or horseradish or a dash of Hotsauce/Tabasco can be an interesting change on two or three...but no more!! :)


                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                                            Oh yes....a little squeeze of lemon, a tiny splash of Tabasco, and into the mouth it goes. A chew, a slurp of the oyster liquor and it's heaven in a shell. A sip from a glass of champagne goes very nicely right about now....

                                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                                              Hey UB - I posted above almost the same thing you said - have you had Louisiana oysters this season? -bayoucook

                                              1. re: bayoucook

                                                Yes...A Gallon from P&J......Delicious!

                                                Prolly get another gallon for New Years.........

                                                1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                  We're picking up some, too - some for raw, some for the *traditional* seafood gumbo for Christmas Eve. Husband is so good at opening them - I still don't have the hang of it, but I WILL get them open one way or another if I have (want) to!

                                              2. re: Uncle Bob

                                                Pasteurized?! Are you kidding? *While* in the shell? I don't understand...

                                                Yes, oysters should be anything but flavorless...it's their very distinct flavor that make them such an acquired taste (well, that and the texture too, granted).

                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                  I'm not sure pasteurized is the right word, but they had to "treat" our oysters in Mississippi this year; said they weren't safe to eat raw. We tend to go to NOLA or Mobile-area to get our oysters for raw consumption.

                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                    I kid you not! Some Casinos, and other seafood buffets who offer Oysters on the 1/2 Shell are selling this product....In a sue crazy environment they don't need/want the hassle......

                                                    http://photos.nola.com/tpphotos/2009/... (Update

                                                    http://www.nola.com/dining/index.ssf/... (10/28)

                                                2. de gustibus non est disputandum. If you swallow something without chewing you won't taste it very much, but regardless of sauce or pasteurization or whatever, if you don't like 'em, you just don't like 'em, and that leaves more for those of us who do.

                                                  So give oysters another try, but eating them won't make you a better person, nor would eating snails.


                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Ask for Blue Points the next time. I always add a squeeze of lemon and sometimes a dot of horseradish. Beer is good with oysters but so is Proseco.

                                                    1. Love, love, love oysters in the half shell - Had the BEST, believe it or not in Cleveland. Ended up at a bar, drinking beer and the kitchen was trying out new sauces and offered me a dozen to try. Scarfed them down w/ some dark ale and I still crave them to this day.

                                                      Too funny, my brother was with me and tried one and literally, shuddered "How can you EAT that"??

                                                      I think either you like them or you don't BUT, they do need to be cold and full of the scent of the sea. And these were, the shucker (right name?) was shucking as I ate them. Yum!

                                                      1. I offer only this:

                                                        “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.”

                                                        A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

                                                        30 Replies
                                                        1. re: DallasDude

                                                          Oysters do seem to provoke opposing passions, do they not? The little suckers transport some to rapturous ecstacy and others to unadulterated revulsion. Off hand I don't know of any other food that is quite so polarizing.

                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            Oh, I think organ meats stir strong passions.

                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                Plenty of people are passionately for organ meats, myself included. Most great contemporary chefs seem mystified by how anyone could not love organ meats. So does most of the rest of the world.

                                                                1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                  You are exactly right, Americans food predjudice if not the worst is right up there. I must admit eating an animals penis would bother me ( I'll leave that to Andrew Z.) but just about anything else is good to go. It amazes me the countless people I have talked to that say they don't like lamb but have never tried it. 50% of the American public is satisfied with their stuffed crust pizza, burgers & chicken strips. They don't know what they are missing.

                                                                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                                    Yes, though to be fair, everywhere I've been has certain very strong, pretty dumb, food prejudices. Even within the US, they vary greatly by region. We do have the odd distinction, however, of both eating the most meat and being the pickiest about meat (together with seemingly having the most vegetarians outside of India, it's an odd trifecta, to say the least).
                                                                    I'm with you on the external genitalia, and I also have an issue with brains. I wouldn't want some animal eating my genitals or brains. I need those.

                                                                    1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                      <<I wouldn't want some animal eating my genitals or brains. I need those.>> Not once you're food, though! ;)

                                                                      I am officially adding oysters on the half shell to my list of things to try. All these people singing their praises can't be wrong!

                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                        Wait a second, you grew up in New England and you've never tried a raw oyster? You better get on that pronto; I think they can revoke your citizenship for that.
                                                                        And hey, what if I end up a zombie or vampire or something. It would be a shame to rise from the grave and find those things missing.

                                                                        1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                          I know, I know. It's so very wrong on a variety of levels. But as a kid, I hated seafood. I now appreciate much more of it.

                                                                          Good point re your last paragraph. Clearly I hadn't thought my response through thoroughly.

                                                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                            Kattyeyes, I'm shocked! You've got to get some raw oysters pronto!

                                                                        2. re: kattyeyes

                                                                          It's certainly difficult to find an oyster house in "the land of steady habits"! This is probably by why, except for NY, we are the "unhappiest" state. No wonder- were not getting our due of aphrodisiac foods!

                                                                          Note that LA was the "happiest". THEY enjoy a multitude of oyster houses.

                                                                          1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                            I saw that news clip, too. Very interesting theory--oyster availability as it relates to happiness. Hmmmmm. I'd better get eatin'! Perhaps we should kick off a "best oysters" thread on our local board...race ya!

                                                                            1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                              Re: Lousiana, it may be we are loaded with beer and boudin,too.

                                                                              1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                                Who needs oyster houses in a place where oysters are just a normal thing for bars and restaurants on the coast to serve?
                                                                                I'd be shocked if there's higher per capita consumption of oysters in the LA area than in Connecticut. Long Island sound is very densly packed with oyster beds (even moreso since the lobster die off). Blue Points are usually listed on menus as being from Long Island, because the New York - Connecticut maritime border is only about ten feet off the low tide line on the Connecticut side, but the vast majority are from oyster beds run out of Connecticut.
                                                                                Edit: Just realized how stupid my assumption that LA was Los Angeles was. Louisiana has definitely got Connecticut beat on oyster consumption. Either way, I'd put money on Connecticut not being far behind. It is our official state shellfish, after all.

                                                                                1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                  Norwalk used to be a big oyster producer, but that was before my time! What are our other "state shellfish" choices? I mean, I think there was slim pickins there... MA oysters are really good, and I'm sure there are other NE states w/excellent shellfish. But when I think of CT, I just don't think "Oh, the oyster state!" like MD is for crabs... and Maine is for lobsters... and VA is for... oh! Must check on the state of VA oysters to confirm my "oyster="happiness" theory!

                                                                                  Or maybe haselhurst has a point w/the liquor quip.

                                                                                  1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                                    We've got scallops a'plenty in the Land of Steady Habits.

                                                                                    1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                                      Well, it's pretty unusual just to have a state shellfish. Connecticut still produces a lot of scallops, mussels, clams, oysters, and blue crabs. Oysters are the only one that's a big export, however. Lobster was, before the late 90's, and it's still not hard to find local lobster (which I prefer to lobster from ocean water). Blue Points are still pretty popular nationwide, and even abroad, and usually are harvested by Connecticut fishermen (though, again, sometimes technically in New York waters).
                                                                                      Norwalk still has tons of oyster beds. So do Stamford, Milford, Bridgeport, and just about every town upcoast from Branford. Stonington probably has the highest output, and the highest quality.
                                                                                      You can harvest your own oysters in just about any town on the coast (Madison and Old Saybrook are my favorites for this), or pop down to a marina and buy a bucketful from a fisherman. I don't know how far inland this is true, but at least in the southern part of the state, most fish markets and even grocery stores have local oysters. And, of course, in the coastal region, it's not uncommon for even dives to have good oysters.
                                                                                      In terms of seafood culture, Connecticut is no different than the rest of New England - except that our lobster rolls are way better, and, along with Rhode Island, our lobstering industry has mostly died out. Hartford county might not have the richest seafood culture, but neither does inland Massachusetts or even inland Maine, or most of New Hampshire and Vermont.

                                                                                      1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                        Really? I didn't know that. I see the City Fish Market (a very good local fish purveyor in CT) trucks at the Point Judith (RI) processors (near the ferry parking) every time I park for the ferry to Block Island, and I assumed we don't have much of a fishing fleet. I have bought scallops, kattyeyes, from a wonderful operation on the Stonington Docks (sounds like Bomber or something...Bombster?). I can't remember the name. They were terrific, but kinda hard to get to w/any regularity from West Hartford.

                                                                                        1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                                          This whole subdiscussion should probably get moved to the New England Board, but...
                                                                                          Point Judith is the closest town to the Connecticut border that has good access to the open ocean. People think of Mystic and Misquamicut as being on the ocean, which is technically accurate. From a standpoint of fishing and boating, however, after Long Island Sound you get Fisher's Island Sound and Block Island Sound - ocean water but fairly shallow water with sound currents rather than ocean currents.
                                                                                          So, for ocean fishing, Point Judith is the first port on the New England coast (starting the coast at Greenwich, CT, rather than Lubec, ME). A fishing vessel looking for ocean fishing and leaving from west of Point Judith has to go through a lot more to get to open ocean. The open ocean has very different things to offer, seafood wise, than an estuary like Long Island Sound. You can't fill a fish market with offerings from Long Island Sound alone. For one, you'd have very little fin fish, and your shellfish would be pricey. Some markets don't carry Connecticut muscles or clams, because the ones from farther east or north cost less. But most do carry oysters.
                                                                                          Though there could be subjective disagreement on whether the open ocean or an estuary is better for producing shellfish, objectively, shellfish thrive in estuaries in a way they simply do not in the open ocean. Part of the reason for this may be how long ago most shellfish evolved. Ocean salinity levels are currently much higher than they have been for most of the Earth's history. The brackish water of estuaries may be closer to the salinity of the water an animal like the oyster first evolved in. Part of it is also a relative lack of predators in an estuary versus the ocean. A lot of the other famous shellfish producing areas, like the Chesapeake, also rely on an estuary system. Gulf oysters are often produced in estuaries.
                                                                                          So, like any large estuary, Long Island Sound is perfect for shellfish production. because it's so enclosed, has very mild currents, and is fairly shallow throughout, it has very shallow spots (caused by sand bars) farther off the coast than are typical. This makes navigation a real pain in the ass for sailors, but also means oyster beds can be seeded both near coast and off coast.

                                                                                        2. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                          Just out of curiosity, is there any coastal state in the US that does not produce at least some oysters?

                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                            Probably not, but there's huge variability in output, export, and how well known the oysters are. Few states have a long history of a thriving oyster industry like Connecticut's, partly because Connecticut always had New York City's oyster habit to feed, on top of its own. On the East Coast, I'd say that New England oysters are the most highly regarded, with Wellfleets, Damariscottas, and Blue Points usually considered the finest examples.
                                                                                            Edit: That last statement is highly biased. People from Virginia and other East Coast states proud of their oysters are free to disagree.

                                                                            2. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                              Plenty of people cumulatively, but not percentage-wise. Outside of foodhead sites such as this, I've never encountered anybody who's absolutely crazy about forcemeats, even liver.

                                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                Ever been outside the US, or spent time in ethnic communities in the US?
                                                                                Also, forcemeat is not necessarily, or even usually, organ meat.

                                                                                1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                  Yes, I've been outside of the US.

                                                                                  I was speaking of America and mainstream America, not ethnic enclaves.

                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                    The anti-offal stance of the mainstream US is changing, though, I think. Plenty of "foodies" (as opposed to hounds) now think it's trendy to try sweetbreads, liver, etc. since they started cropping back up on high-end menus a few years back. Only a matter of time before Applebee's is serving up fried liver and onions "like great-grandma used to make."

                                                                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                      You may well be right. And if so, fine. My only point was that currently in the US, offal inspires nowhere near the passion that pizza, steak, hot dogs, gumbo and chili--just to name a few--do. And I can think of no food that polarizes Americans quite the way raw oysters do. Verily, you either love 'em or you hate 'em.

                                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                        Sushi and Sashimi can be added to your list.

                                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                          Well, I'll give you that! I wonder what a sweetbread-and-liver pizza would taste like.

                                                                        3. You did not have a good oyster if it was flavorless. And pouring off the liquor is a sin. I don't usually chew myself, and I still adore good oysters. I do like our west coast oysters much better than the east coast oysters I've had. Ours are sweeter, and less salty, it seems. And often are a littler species.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Vetter

                                                                            At least as to saltiness, I dont' believe it matters that much which coast the bivalves are from, but rather the salinity level of the water in which they lived. I once had the pleasure of eating oysters raised in the Chesapeake about 30 miles, I am estimating, apart. They were "farmed" by two guys who were friends and watermen and employed the same techniques and, for all intents and purposes, cultivated the same oysters. Those from further south, closer to the mouth of the Bay and therefore the Atlantic, had a significantly more pronounced saltiness.

                                                                            (Man, it was fun to remember that day . . . You know the oysters are probably going to be good when you hang out with guys who keep shucking knives in the glove compartment!)

                                                                          2. My experience with oysters is, the first time you'll not likely "Get it."

                                                                            It took me a few times trying them and then I started to come around. First, finding the perfect condiment combo and then slowly realizing they're best left unadulterated.

                                                                            IMHO it's as fresh as fresh can taste. A real clean, briny taste that (with malpaques anyway) tastes a lot like a scallop. Except better.


                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                              Yep, that's how it worked for me too. When I was a teen, a lot of cocktail sauce and courage, then less and less was needed of each. They can range from very delicate to very pungent; some will only eat them on one end of the spectrum, some the other, and the lucky ones across it.

                                                                            2. My favorite meal EVER. As an undergraduate at Tulane in New Orleans (mid-eighties), we frequented an uptown bar called Cooter Browns. Cooters sold 1/2 shell oysters as bar food- they were like $3/doz. or something. They put out saltines, horseradish, ketchup and lemons for you to make your own sauce. Lord, that was some good bar food! Rumor had it, Cooters dredged them from the levee behind the bar- hard to believe, but who knows. I dated a guy who shucked oysters outside another bar (the name escapes me now, but was across from the old Jax (or Dixie?) Brewery. Cheap oysters and cheap liquor?! Heaven. But for god's sake, DON'T DRAIN THE LIQUID!

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                                The bar across from the Dixie Brewery was Nick's, does that sound familiar?

                                                                                Cooters always had the cheapest oysters around, and the myth about them dredging their own oysters was just that, a myth.

                                                                                1. re: roro1831

                                                                                  OMG, roro! You are right! I loved Nicks-such a good deal for 3for1 drinks, my parents would have been "proud" of my "good financial choices". Thanks for the way-back moment, although I'm disappointed to find out the Cooter thing was a myth. Although it WAS true that when you finished the 5K up at the levee, they handed you a cup of beer...but no oysters. That would have been crazy...

                                                                                  1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                                    Sadly, I drove by Nick's on Monday and it was torn down recently. Supposedly they are rebuilding, but we will wait and see.

                                                                                2. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                                  Ah yes, Cooter Brown's. Back in my day it was more like $1/dozen, but for $1 you got a dozen whole oysters and the loan of an oyster knife. I have scars on 3 different fingers of my left hand from shucking while drinking (Yes, I'm a slow learner). Fortunately I lived close enough to walk home or I might not have been around to post this. Cheap oysters make an excellent loss leader if your main business is selling beer.

                                                                                  Too bad about Nick's. Don't recall them serving oysters, though.

                                                                                3. Agree with other posters - don't pour off the liquor and you have to chew! I was never really into oysters until my current SO got me into them. He loves all kinds of oysters, but I prefer smaller fat oysters than the huge NOLA ones, personally. I do like them very cold. Be careful wtih cocktail sauce and horseradish - they can really overpower the oyster (what's the point?). I prefer mignonette (if you find yourself in Seattle, try it at Elliotts). One place in B.C. (RIP Gastropod!) put a "horseradish snow" on the oysters that was excellent (not overpowering, cold and delish). Don't psych yourself out over it - a lot of oyster newbies either gulp them down, cover them in cocktail sauce or chew and swallow very quickly, each of which prevents the true enjoyment of the oyster.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: akq

                                                                                    The last two times we had oysters in NOLA they were smaller than usual and fat, and oh so salty...I love it when we get those!

                                                                                    1. re: akq

                                                                                      I don't know about that Seattle vinegar sauce (mignonette, if you wish). I use it for cheviche. I just love the trashiness of the ketchup/horseradish/saltines oyster accompanyment. It kind of "humanizes" the whole "oyster as food for a king!" thing. Mignonette just seems too... IDK...prissy?

                                                                                      1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                                                                        hahahah! That's awesome. Go with whatever tastes good!

                                                                                    2. Oh, the appeal...such a delicate flavor...like eating the ocean itself. Not to mention the pleasures of killing something with your teeth. Delicious.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: dinnercraft

                                                                                        The new Chairman of PETA, ladies and gentlemen! The new Chairman of PETA!

                                                                                        1. re: dinnercraft

                                                                                          Maybe that accounts for the aphrodisiac notions...Sounds kinda kinky!

                                                                                        2. I have read through this thread and seen some good info and some bogus First off, I have no tolerance for food snobbery. There are always folks who will insist if you don't eat something the way they do, then you must be doing it wrong. Rule of thumb, ignore those people.

                                                                                          Oysters are amazing in my book. I'm not from a coastal location and it was an acquired taste for me. I eat them with a little horseradish and a squirt of lemon, other times maybe a little cocktail sauce, and sometimes just a dash of hot sauce. I have to agree with those who said it's like the taste of the ocean. I do give it a couple of chews and savor the briney flavor, but if you want to swallow it whole, more power to you!

                                                                                          The bottom line is, there is no wrong way to eat an oyster. Whatever makes you happy is what it's all about. Experiment with it and enjoy it any way you like. Life is way too short to worry about what others think.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: drayman

                                                                                            I've always said, it's your food, you decide how best to enjoy it.


                                                                                          2. No worries - eat what you enjoy, not what the "masses" tell you you should be enjoying.

                                                                                            I HATE raw oysters; absolutely hate the slimy mucousy little bastards. But baked, roasted, fried? I ADORE them.

                                                                                            Again - personal preference. Never allow someone else to make you feel weird because you don't like to ingest something. ;)

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                              I've never met an oyster I didn't like, with the exception of chopped. When a recipe calls for chopped, I turn the page. How could anyone chop up a poor, defenseless oyster? Lagniappe: an oyster Rockefeller dish from a now closed Houston restaurant institution. A dozen shelled oysters in the bottom shell seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, topped with chopped spinach and Kraft or Ken's chunky blue cheese and paprika, baked at 375 for 10 to 15 minutes. I know it sounds different, but it is absolutely delicious.

                                                                                            2. Glad this topic came to the front again.

                                                                                              Recently visited a fish house on a river here in MI.

                                                                                              One appetizer offering (and not cheap) was Blue Point Oysters--on the half shell or Rockefeller.

                                                                                              Well...we were going to order a dozen, but settled on a half dozen. This was a smart choice on our part because the oysters were presented very beautifully, BUT HAD NO TASTE. None!

                                                                                              I asked our waitress: "Where are these from?" She had to go back to the kitchen to find out (not a good sign). After a while she re-appeared and told us they were "from Virginia." Virginia, I thought. Where the heck in Virginia waters are oyster beds?

                                                                                              This incident bothered me a lot, so when home later I googled Virginia oysters and brought up a number of references for Fresh Water Oysters. My conclusion, why bother. If I wanted something from frest water, I'd order something with fins.

                                                                                              A $12 lesson. Never to be repeated.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: RedTop

                                                                                                First, there are oyster beds all along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Second, the Bay is not fresh water. In fact, the Bay is the most saline along its Virginia coasts. Moreover, even most of the mouths of all of the tributaries to the Bay are brackish - all the way to Delaware.

                                                                                                Quite a while ago, I posted about the "meroir" of Chesapeake oysters - you can read it upthread. At bottom, if you had flavorless oysters in Michigan, it was because they had become "dry" from being out of the water so long - not where they were farmed.

                                                                                                Also, please show us what you "googled" so that we can see where your misunderstanding came from.

                                                                                                1. re: RedTop

                                                                                                  The quality of oysters can vary from the same beds very quickly depending on rainfall or which way the wind is blowing.

                                                                                                  Would like to see a link to these "fresh water" oysters. They are usually found in an estuary. I'm guessing in Virginia that would be the Chesapeake Bay.

                                                                                                  1. re: RedTop

                                                                                                    No such thing as fresh water oysters in Virginia. And Chesapeake Bay oysters are delicious.

                                                                                                  2. Nobody has mentioned mignonette sauce? I prefer smaller oysters because Inthink they are sweeter and while I don't slurp directly from the shell I also don't drain any liquid.

                                                                                                    1. Curious whether or not the OP ever enjoyed fried oysters and/or clams as well. The everlasting argument for/against raw I can understand, but still curious.

                                                                                                      1. First what the hell is the 'Hastalapasta' banner that pops up? I can't get rid of it so I back out. Anyway. I'd suggest you actually go enjoy some actual fresh oysters somewhere. Then if you don't love them never try them again. Don't worry. There are millions of people who consider them to be one of the most delicious foods on the planet. I'll be happy to enjoy your share. LOL BTW, we can go to our beach and pick a few oysters for a treat. If you are really interested travel somewhere where oysters are growing. Try some there.