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  • Writer's picturegfmeade7

SHELL SHUCKED 28/12/21

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MAKE OYSTERS PART OF YOUR NEW YEAR WELLNESS WORLD There is one delicacy that we foodies swoon over and that is the oyster. Now they are not everyone’s taste of the ocean but for me it’s about as close to getting into the sea without being wet. My fresh, healthy, nutritious and delicious Christmas day starter, pictured, was just the job before taking on the big bird. No fuss or frills, just a crisp glass of Chablis and a slice of good soda bread with unsalted butter and you are away in a hack as we say around here. Less is more when it comes to eating these beauties. Oysters have been enjoyed since antiquity and indeed they were a dietary staple of Ireland for centuries as we produce pretty good ones. It was not just cockles and mussels on Molly Malone’s cart. Oysters never made it into that song but Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney made up for that dedicating a whole fabulous poem to them. Our Galway native variety is revered on the best tables of Paris and London. I was lucky to sample some of them thanks to one Mister Corrigan a while back at his beautiful Bentley’s restaurant in Piccadilly where the customers have Irish oysters opened right in front of them and they would go nowhere else than there for a taste of the very best. You can also totally indulge yourself at home here if you go to Moran’s Oyster cottage in Galway or attend the annual oyster festival there each September. I was also happy to be living and working right next door to an oyster farm in Brittany for many years where I got to know about them quite a bit. Sometimes when we ran short customers got their oysters literally straight out of the open tank which we had access to from our trusting neighbour. The diners also looked out on the oyster beds as they ate them too, farm to fork does not get any closer. These days I really enjoy the oysters we produce in Carlingford Lough up in nearby Louth which I have visited and good fishmongers and supermarket seafood counters will get them for you no problem. You need an oyster knife which sometimes comes with them anyway and do watch one of the many online videos on opening them properly; I have seen a few chefs end up in hospital after being reckless. Eating any seafood though was not a big part of my youth, as a farmer’s son there was the odd smoked cod dinner on a Friday and they certainly never made it on the menu of my local Beechmount hotel where I had already started my career. When I did get to eat my very first oyster while staying in La Rochelle at eighteen, there was a moment of magic that I can still recall like it was only yesterday. The magic still happens every time. Now the Irish still eat far less seafood than we should and anything we do eat is mostly imported. That then makes it a double paradox of being also an island nation in the Atlantic with some of the best fishing grounds surrounding us. So if there is one thing we should be doing to improve our diet in 2022 then it’s getting more fish on our plates. It might take you a while to eventually face a plate of oysters but it is worth the journey when you get there. Just dive in and savour the true taste of the sea. #carlingfordoysters #moransontheweir #seamusheaneyoysterpoem #bentleyslondon #irishoysters #healthyeating #tasteofthesea See less

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