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Starters Q.


So, oysters. Let’s be honest, they look pretty gross, don’t


they? Are they really as delicious as people make out? They are; they’re fantastic and unique. First you have this fresh smell of the sea, then the burst of flavour you get is incredible – like being washed by a wave of the tastiest seawater (probably not from Weston-super-Mare, though).


How many varieties of oyster are there? There are many different types of oyster, but there are five varieties which are edible, of which two are to be found here in the UK. We call these the Native oyster, as it’s (funnily enough) native to our shores and estuaries, and the Pacific oyster, which is originally from the Asian side of the Pacific ocean. These oysters have been introduced to our waters and are mainly cultivated, but some have escaped and now breed wild in the UK. Amongst these different types there are many different styles and flavours, dictated by the environment the oyster inhabits. Just as grapes grown for the wine industry are affected by their terroir, oysters are affected by their ‘merroir’, the minerals to be found in the water and so on.


What the fishmonger knows…


Food doesn’t get much more sexy than oysters, but do you know your Natives from your Pacific?


SHUCKIN’ ANDJIVIN’


JOE WHEATCROFT, co-owner of Source Food Hall and Café in Bristol, dishes the dirt on these love-’em-or-hate-’em aphrodisiacs


crumbsmag.com 21


Ethical hat on, are they sustainable? Oysters have been around for ages, and have provided food for humans since prehistoric times. Responsible harvesting of wild, Native oysters is key, and at Source we only use ones gathered using sustainable methods. The wide cultivation of Pacific oysters ensures that the tasty little things will be on our menus for years to come.


Phew! So when are they at their best? In my experience, oysters are great all year round – but I think they are at their very best in the autumn, which is why we hold our annual oyster festival at that time. This is the best time to gather Native oysters, too: in 2013 we had 13 different types of oyster at our festival.


What should we look out for when buying oysters? Always go to a trusted fishmonger to buy them, and


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