It has had the honor of gracing the fancy banquet tables of royalty and the super-wealthy and the most expensive, exclusive restaurant menus, while at the same time serving as an affordable street food for the common man sold from stalls and vendor carts and offered for just pennies at popular oyster bars.
Of course they were the food that kicked off the $1,000 Dinner (Philadelphia restauranteur James Parkinson's 1851 culinary duel with the Delmonico family of NY). Oysters have been a fashionable first course really at least since the Romans feasted on them in great numbers. The most popular style is probably just served up raw on the half shell, but clever chefs have delighted in coming up with numerous other ways to showcase oysters over the years – fried, baked, frittered, featured in soups, bisques and gumbo, swimming in a rich sauce such as Oysters Rockefeller – even as flavorings for items ranging from Thanksgiving turkey stuffing to catsup (who knew?).
So, when my husband and I ate at the delightful Jose Garces restaurant Chifa this past weekend, I just had to try the
oysters ceviche Ecuadorian style (see above). What I got was a lovely presentation of four fresh raw oysters each resting on a tiny bed of shaved ice topped with a delicious marinade of spicy tomato, chives, yellow tomato gel and avocado. A perfect foil for the plump, briny, juicy oysters. Not only were they gorgeous to look at, they melted in my mouth.
And as the research continues ... I can't wait to try other oyster recipe combinations!