Gastronomy  French oysters for Christmas?
09/12/201409:00 TV5MONDE

Christmas Oysters

Believe it or not, some French people say you should only eat oysters when there is an “r” in the month… Hooray, we are in DecembeR!
This is a dish that is often served during a Christmas meal. Oysters have always been a delicacy in France and used to be only affordable for people living on the coast and for rich people living far from the sea. The habit and tradition of eating oysters spread through all well-off classes of French society during 19th Century when sea resorts became fashionable. Today they have a prominent place on the Christmas table! 





There are many places in France where oysters can be found: Brittany, Normandy, Arcachon…. Most of France’s flat oysters are farmed on the coasts of Brittany. Famous ones are the oysters from Cancale, but also Saint-Brieux, Morlaix, Riec-Sur-Belon, the Bay of Brest… The strong tides (especially in the Mont-Saint-Michel bay) in this area bring a highly oxygenated, salty and firm flesh. 




There are several types of oysters. They can be flat or cupped. They also carry a number indicating the shell size. The cupped oysters are qualified with a number starting from 0 to 5 whereas the flat oysters are described by a number starting from 000 to 6. Here, number 000 oysters represents the biggest, and number 6 oysters the smallest!




Excellent and healthy:
 
Oysters are one of the most nutritionally balanced foods. They represent a succulent source of vitamins A, B, C, iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc… plus proteins, carbohydrates… on top of which they are LOW in calories, in fat and low in cholesterol! Aren’t they fabulous?




How do French people eat oysters?
 
Before eating them, they have to be opened! This is the most difficult part! The opener has to be extremely careful not to leave any bits of shells otherwise your guests might not be very happy…
To enjoy raw oysters, you can just squeeze a bit of lemon that you sprinkle on top of the oyster. Many people also like to prepare a mignonette sauce.
 

Mignonette Sauce:
 
_Minced shallots
_Cracked pepper
_Vinegar (white, cider, or of your choice)


 By the way, do you know what “mignonette” means?  It means, “cute, small and tasty”, which is exactly what it is!




If you are more of an adventurer and want to try a different recipe with oysters, why not try this recipe from our TV5MONDE program Épicerie Fine: Oysters from Brittany in a pumpkin bouillon with curry and wasabi ?




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