‘Tis the season to eat oysters…

Oysters may be found throughout the Greater Daglan Area for most of the year (no, silly, not roaming about in the wild, but offered for sale in various shops and markets). But during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, we have an oyster explosion. The salty little creatures are a favourite seasonal treat of the French, very much associated with the holidays.

Yesterday morning my wife Jan and I drove to the Carrefour supermarket in Gourdon for the all-important last-minute Christmas food shopping, and were confronted by a massive oyster display as soon as we entered.

There in the entrance hall, even before going into the main part of the store, were boxes and boxes of shellfish. A special cash register had been set up (cash only — no bank cards please) and was carefully staffed with a man who knows a lot about seafood and very little about how to operate a cash register. Here’s a look at some of the boxes of oysters:

A long row of oysters, all packaged up and ready to go.

A long row of oysters, all packaged up and ready to go.

Closer to the cash register were opened boxes of oysters and other shellfish, so that you could pick and choose, and buy as many or as few as you wished. Here’s how the boxes looked:

Open boxes of shellfish, ready to be picked out.

Open boxes of shellfish, ready to be picked out.

We did see some nice looking scallops (like these), but decided to focus on oysters.

A basket of nice-looking scallops.

A basket of nice-looking scallops.

Here’s a look at the kind we chose, tantalizingly displayed with a bunch of seaweed and one opened oyster, so you could see the size of what you’d be getting inside the shells:

An open box of oysters, with an opened oyster on top.

An open box of oysters, with an opened oyster on top.

First we had the seafood man pick out a dozen for us. But that became amazingly complicated when he tried to price them on the little scale beside his cash register, because (a) they were priced at 10.50 euros per kilo and we had chosen less than a kilo, and (b) he couldn’t locate the right code number to ring in that type of oyster. Okay, we said, give us a kilo for the 10.50 euros price — which is how we wound up with 15 oysters. After a long and truly painful period of watching him try to make the cash register work, we finally got our oysters. (Cue sigh of relief.)

So yesterday evening,  Radio Free Daglan’s Chief Oyster Shucker (Jan) opened them up. She thought that two seemed a bit “off,” and pitched them out, so we wound up with 13 opened oysters for our dinner. (Yes, I had seven and Jan had six. But it was her idea — really.) Jan then set them out for a light Saturday night dinner, consumed with a bottle of bubbly. And here’s how our serving platter looked (we are purists of the lemon-juice only school; no funny sauces please):

All set for a quick squeeze of lemon juice, and then it's down the hatch.

All set for a quick squeeze of lemon juice, and then it’s down the hatch.

How were they? Delicious. Very briny, the essence of the sea, just as we like them.

And as for dinner tonight — it’s shellfish again. This time it will be a variation on moules marinière, which are mussels “seaman’s style,” cooked with onions and steamed in Ricard. As for the mussels themselves, we bought them this morning at the lively weekly market in St. Cyprien. Yum!

This entry was posted in French food, Holidays in France, Life in southwest France, Markets in France, Weather in the Dordogne and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to ‘Tis the season to eat oysters…

  1. Double D's says:

    We are curious how long the oysters can hangout in crates like that? It is without a doubt a most impressive display of product. No advice on how to help him with the cash register but selling by the oyster instead of by weight can speed things along but I guess that would kill the charm of French country life.

    • loren24250 says:

      I’ve often wondered that myself — how long can oysters last without water, and so on. The answer seems to be: Quite a while. I guess part of the reason is that the stores (supermarkets) are quite cool. Beyond that, I really don’t know. But they are indeed yummy! (The oysters tend to be from two great areas: Brittany in the northwest, and the Bordeaux area, in the southwest but, obviously, on the Atlantic coast.) You tend not to hear about oysters from the Med. Too hot, I guess.

  2. John Ison says:

    Nice oyster, clam, mussel display at the St. Lawrence Market this morning but not in this league.

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