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