Fork in my luggage Food

One off the list

An oyster did it. One perfect oyster. In his colourful book, Kitchen Confidential, bad-boy chef Antony Bourdain says his first oyster – eaten on a small boat in France – changed his perception of food. "It tasted of seawater... of brine and flesh...and, somehow...of the future.” He then adds, “I was hooked… My life as a cook, and as a chef, had begun. ”

So, obviously my expectations were high. Which is why I passed on the ‘oyster buffet’ at a posh hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, where a group of my friends tried their first oysters, emboldened by too much tequila and that particular recklessness that comes from partying till 3 a.m. I walked up to the table and eyed a particularly slimy specimen. It glared right back. Defeated, I walked away.

A couple of years later, the oyster challenge resurfaced again. I was in Berlin with my infinitely more adventurous sister and Dutch brother-in-law at the KaDeWe – Germany’s answer to Harrods. Its crowning glory is the Food Hall: more than 3,400 wines, 1,300 varieties of cheese and four swish champagne bars. Of course we stopped at the Oyster Bar: Chic and crowded with high bar tables and a row of oyster-shucking men in white.

The menu offered a bewildering variety, including Emerald rock oysters, Tsarskayas and Sylter royales. In an attempt to make my ‘oyster introduction’ as sophisticated as possible, we decided on an array teamed with champagne. After all, what’s the point of being posh in half measures?

The oysters were admittedly stunning, wobbling in gleaming shells on a bed of crushed ice. There was Tabasco on hand, but we decided to try them ‘pristine’ so we scooped up the shells, tilted back our heads and swallowed in one fluid motion. Honestly? It was like licking a fishing boat. Well, at least I crossed them off my list. And my champagne was perfect: cold, dry, delicious.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:28:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/one-off-the-list/article6225435.ece

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