“I placed the shell on the edge of her lips and after a good deal of laughing, she sucked in the oyster, which she held between her lips. I instantly recovered it by placing my lips on hers.”
Casanova. The guy who wrote that. You’ve heard of him. Right? But did you also hear that, regularly, he used to feast on 50 oysters for breakfast.
Not only that, a study a few years back proved that they actually do…well, you know…work.
According to The Telegraph, “A team of American and Italian researchers analysed bivalve molluscs – a group of shellfish that includes oysters – and found they were rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones.”
George Fisher, a professor of chemistry at Barry University, Miami, and the guy who led the research team said, “I have been a scientist for 40 years and my research has never generated interest like this.”
Come on, George, when else did you do any research about something that makes men frisky?
Now I’m a guy from Missouri with a glass half-empty when it comes to these scientific studies. I’m not even sure some of these academics even have sex more than three or four times a month, with or without oysters.
So I decided to conduct some independent research. I would use Don Day’s Wife and I as the lab rats. And luckily, there was an upcoming event where I could conduct the research.
Will Brien (that’s Will in the photo) was organizing an oyster dinner at Firenze. He promised there would be a lot of oysters. Now what were those ten steps in a scientific experiment that Mrs. Biltmore, my short-skirted, long-legged science teacher, made me learn before I was allowed to dissect the frog? Objective, method, observation, collection, analysis…
Oysters aren’t a regular feature at Firenze. “It’s a lot of work to put them on the menu”, chef/owner Antonio Delgadillo told me. “Freshness is so, so important.”
Chef Antonio started us off with the freshest way an oyster could be served. Lying naked on the half shell in it own juices and untouched by heat. My way to eat a raw oyster is with a healthy squeeze of lemon and exactly two drops of the original and still-my-all-time-favorite hot sauce, tabasco (could it be it’s because they age the pepper mash in old oak Jack Daniel’s barrels?). For other people’s tastes, Antonio had a shallot vinegar and horseradish cream on the table.
Now the scientific study didn’t say if what you put on the oysters had any effect on the results. Or whether you should simply swirl and swallow as Don Day’s Dad had taught me or give them a little chew to help release those amino acids. I did a bit of both to the pleasantly plump and briny beasts. I watched as Don Day’s Wife did the same. It may not have been sexual but it certainly was sensual.
For the next course, chef Antonio dusted the oysters in corn meal and then flash-fried them in one of Firenze’s most celebrated sauces, a sauce that, usually, is what one of the restaurant’s ravioli dishes bathes in. The sage and lemon brown butter worked just as well, if not better, with the oysters. They were gone faster than you can say “Aw shucks,”.
By now, a fancy-dan food writer (that’s someone who gets paid for doing what I love), would have told you what kind of oysters we were eating. The reason I haven’t told you is that I don’t really know and I don’t really care. In fact, when I go to restaurants where the server rhymes off the six different oyster varieties they’re featuring that day, my usual response is to order two of each and all of them.
When it comes to oysters, I find most people are homeys. I come from Eastern Canada and root for the Blue Jays and Malpeque oysters. Will Brien comes from New England and probably roots for the Red Sox and Wellfleets. For a guy from New York it’s probably the Yankees and Blue Points. And for someone Seattle-born, the Mariners and Olympias.
Antonio Delgadillo told me that the “oysters were from Ensanada and I think they’re a relative of the Kumamotos”. If I had to guess, I’d say they were Kumiai but it would be a very wild guess.
I do know that more Pacific oysters are now consumed than Atlantic oysters but, back to my original reason for this blog post, I was unable to find out if it results in men having more sex on the West Coast.
Next up was that dish introduced a couple of centuries ago at Antoine’s in New Orleans. Oysters Rockefeller. One of the greatest inventions in American culinary history. There are slight variations allowed to the toppings but there are no variations allowed to the preparation. The oysters must be not even close to cooked. They must be just barely warmed through. When you’re doing Oysters Rockefeller for eleven people all at one time, that’s not easy to do but, on these types of occasions, Firenze always seems to shine.
By the time I woke up late the next morning, Will Brien had already sent me an email asking for pictures. Cheeky I thought until I realized he wanted shots from the dinner not what happened after dinner.
I looked at the notepad and pencil I had strategically left on the bedside table. It was blank. Beside it was the cognac glass (just what you need after two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc) still untouched. Now I have been known to drift away while Don Day’s Wife’s doing whatever women do in the bathroom for the last ten minutes before they go to bed. I must have done it again. I must have nodded off. I may have ruined my last hope to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine. But not quite.
You see 15 years ago I did another study on the effect of oysters on a woman’s libido with earth moving results. I could send the NEJM a report of that.
What happened was I asked Don Day’s Wife to stand in front of a full length mirror and put a blindfold over her eyes. Then I quietly came up behind her, pressed my body gently against hers and placed my hands around her neck. Then I removed her blindfold to reveal a single strand of oversized natural pearls. And later that night…
Firenze is located at Recreo #13 in San Miguel de Allende. Oysters are not a regular on the restaurant’s menu but if you give Chef Antonio a week’s notice, he’ll do his best to source and serve them to you. The restaurant is open from 1:00 pm to 9:30 pm from Monday to Saturday.