French Oysters: 'More Precious Than Pearls'

Bivalve connoisseur describes 3-day journey
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2011 5:56 PM CDT
Oysters are in a basket at a mussels and oysters farm on December 9, 2008 in Grandcamp-Maisy, western France.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The world's most delicious oysters can be found in the French region of Brittany, where "they are generally smaller than other varieties but intensely flavored," writes Susan Spano in the Los Angeles Times. She recounts her 3-day oyster tour of France's Atlantic coast, where she devoured dozens of the minuscule bivalves. She even pauses to deflect misconceptions about the gunky bottom feeders, noting that "oysters contain vitamins and minerals, especially phosphorous, good for bones and teeth."

Spano also delves into the history of oyster diners, which includes Diderot, Voltaire, and even Napoleon—who ate them "before going into battle." But she reserves her most sensuous prose for oysters themselves. She purchased 12 from a market saleswoman "about as friendly as a mollusk" and downed them with lemon on a plastic plate: "The ensuing debauchery, closely watched by passers-by, left juice dribbles on my shirt and salty brine on my face and hands."

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