how to eat oysters

“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.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Whitstable oysters. Eating Whelks in Whitstable. Whelks for sale in Whitstable. Boats in Whitstable harbour. Oysters shells in Whitstable. Lunch at the Whitstable Oyster company.Boats in Whitstable harbour. Pretty flowers in Whitstable. Lunch at the Whitstable Oyster company. Lunch at the Whitstable Oyster company. Lunch at the Whitstable Oyster company. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Lunch at the Whitstable Oyster company. Lunch at the Whitstable Oyster company. Michaux in Whitstable.Lunch at the Whitstable Oyster company. On the beach in Whitstable. Building sandcastles in Whitstable. Running for the water in Whitstable. Drinking in the sunshine in Whitstable. Kate McAuley crashing on the beach in Whitstable. Friends by the seaside in Whitstable. Boats in Whitstable harbour. Friends silhouetted in Whitstable.

I can’t remember eating my first oyster. As far as I can tell, I’ve loved them since childhood. Back then I used to search in vain for a pearl before slurping them down a half-dozen at a time. These days I’m happy to dose them with a splash of lemon before I suck them between my teeth and push the slippery orbs against the roof of my mouth with my tongue until they explode with their own secret taste of the sea.

Eating oysters is something to be savoured, a treat. During my first trip to Paris, I ate them them standing up outside one of the many bistros in the Quartier Latin before heading for a steak at Relais d’Entrecote. In Australia and France, oysters are welcome on Christmas Day. And in London, birthday lunches have been had at Wright Brothers on Borough Market before the former was a chain and the latter became an overly commercialised w**k-fest.

Oysters also beckon me to the Kentish coast for day trips with friends. Whitstable, a pretty seaside town of pitched rooves, pebbled beaches and a myriad of boats in search of safe harbour, is also known for its seafood – most notably the oyster (they even have an oyster festival at the end of July), though locally brewed beer, monkfish, crabs, cockles and whelks all deserve a mention.

How we got there:

Whitstable is 1½ hours on the train from London Victoria.

Where we ate:

Whitstable Oyster Company

© Kate McAuley

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