Oyster gallimaufry

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11660406571257.jpg’, ‘Photo by Dr. Robert Hedeen’, ‘Oysters on the half shell are considered by many to be the food of the gods.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116604070327600.jpg’, ‘Photo by Dr. Robert Hedeen’, ‘Shuckers work frantically to keep up with the demand for oysters on the half shell.’);

Long ago, oysters gave rise to the phrase, “live and love longer.” It seems oysters have always been linked with love as when Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, emerged from the sea on an oyster shell and soon gave birth to Eros, the god who excites exotic love with his arrows, the word aphrodisiac was born. These bivalves have long been considered the ultimate natural aphrodisiac by countless individuals of diverse backgrounds. The ancient Romans firmly believed that if you ate oysters in great numbers, you would live and love longer. The noted Greek physician Galen (A.D. 130-200), who was the last word on medical practice until the Middle ages, regularly prescribed the eating of oysters for both men and women whose interest in the opposite sex had waned.

Needless to say, numerous experiments have been conducted over the ages to determine if, in fact, oysters were aphrodisiacal in nature, and all of the scientifically conducted ones have shown that oysters have no physiological effect on one’s love life but may enhance it from a psychological standpoint.

Oysters, however, are an excellent source of the element of zinc, which they filter from the sea water. Only in fairly recent years has the importance of zinc been recognized as very important in several metabolic processes of the body, one of which is the production of the primary male sex hormone, testosterone. Zinc is also now known to be of importance in marinating the health of the prostate gland, which along with testosterone, is essential for a male’s love life. But, to date, detailed qualitative studies of the biochemical effects of zinc on the human reproductive process have been contradictory.

Oysters are not only delicious to eat, but they are among the most nutritionally balanced of all foods. They are made of a good combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids (fats). They are especially strong in protein with about 60 percent of their body being made up of this essential foodstuff. They are low in cholesterol, so this should make cardiologists happy.

Vitamins are essential to the proper functioning of the animal organism, and oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C (ascorbic cid), and D (calciferol).

In addition, small amounts of so-called trace elements are necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Among these trace elements are iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium phosphorus and iodine, which are prevalent in oysters. The primary cause of goiter in humans is a lack of iodine in the diet. In parts of France this condition is sometimes treated with oysters that have been reared in an environment that has been loaded with iodine. A neighbor of mine in France regularly partook of prescription oysters laden with iodine to combat his goiter and once gave one to me to sample. I was glad I did not need the oyster-iodine treatment as the strong taste of iodine almost overpowered me as I swallowed the “medicine.”

In Europe, it is commonly believed that one should never partake of raw oysters and drink hard liquor, such as whiskey, schnaps, or cognac at the same time, as the excess alcohol will turn a raw oyster into stone, causing severe indigestion. It is all right to drink white wine or champagne with raw oyster as these beverages supposedly assist in their digestion. Distillers of Scotch whiskey have conducted experiments that have shown that this is not the case, and one can enjoy raw oysters along with a shot of Scotch and suffer no ill effects.

In certain parts of the country, an Oyster and Bull Roast banquet is used to celebrate certain occasions. Recently, it was my pleasure to attend, as a guest, a reunion of individuals who grew up together in a certain section of Baltimore, Md. More than 100 people attended the Bull-Oyster Roast, and about 750 oysters were available with two shuckers working frantically to keep up with the demand. I won’t reveal how many I downed, but the number did not even come close to the world record set by a man named Tommy (Muskrat) Greene of Deale, Md., who in 1985 polished off 288 raw oysters, weighing approximately 6 pounds, in 1 minute 33 seconds.

In spite of the fact the oysters provided at the reunion dinner were not from the Chesapeake Bay but came from Galveston Bay, Texas, they were relished by all, including this writer.

From the Dec. 13-19, 2006, issue

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