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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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Don’t be put off by the way they look – oysters are a real delicacy. Open them with a special oyster knife which you use to slice through the muscle that holds the shell halves together. Swirl both halves briefly in cold, salty water, sprinkle on a few drops of lemon juice and simply swallow the oyster down. If you want an accompaniment, try plain bread and butter. In France, a vinaigrette containing red wine and shallots is a traditional accompaniment. Some people like oyster gratin – to make it the oysters are arranged in their shell halves in an ovenproof dish, covered with your choice of topping and browned under the grill.

Only buy really fresh, good quality oysters. They should smell of seawater and not fishy. And the shells should be tightly closed. Put your oysters on the worktop and tap each one. It should sound like tapping a solid stone. If an oyster sounds hollow, it probably means that it has lost seawater and is no longer fit to eat. Oysters taste best if they’re eaten soon after you get them home, but they will keep in the fridge for one or two days. The old rule that you should only eat oysters in months with an "r" (September to April) is not necessarily valid any longer. Modern refrigeration technology means they can be efficiently cooled even in summer. However, oysters spawn in summer and connoisseurs will tell you they don’t taste nearly as good.

Source: Heike Kreutz,