Oyster season a good time to go native

Many Irish people don’t like oysters – native or Pacific – and that is a tragedy

The two oyster festivals taking place in Galway this month  – Clarinbridge and Galway city – celebrate the arrival of our native son

The two oyster festivals taking place in Galway this month – Clarinbridge and Galway city – celebrate the arrival of our native son

 

Though you may have missed it, the native oyster season began last Saturday (September 1st). The season runs with months with an “r” in it, so from September to April. This allows the wild oysters to spawn and procreate. This is the principal difference between our native oyster, which has been around for thousands of years, and the Pacific oyster, which was introduced in the 1960s.

The Pacific oyster is available all year round, the native is not. Thus it’s desirability when September comes.

Yet, this is not to say that the many beautiful Pacific oysters grown in this country are not wonderful examples of our terroir. For this reason, I dislike the term “native” as its opposite implies something of less ethnic quality. In truth, all oysters grown on Irish waters are part of our terroir, and are equally good.

Swallowing oysters whole is an ungodly sight and a complete waste of a life (the oyster’s, I mean)

However, because it’s the season for natives, I would strongly encourage you to go in search of them. Both oyster festivals that take place in Galway this month (Clarinbridge and Galway city) celebrate the arrival of our native son. If you’ve a hunger for these saline treats, Galway is the place to be in the next month. Kelly’s Oysters have been supplying natives to the festival for generations.

Many Irish people don’t like oysters (which is a tragedy). Rawness, taste and texture are reasons usually given to me. However, often I think we just don’t give them enough time to dance over our tongues.

Swallowing oysters whole is an ungodly sight and a complete waste of a life (the oyster’s, I mean). Oysters should be chewed, gently and with great affection. In my opinion, they should also be rinsed before serving, as I hate pulling shell out of my mouth. Though most oyster men and women will shriek at the crude injunction.

Lastly, try to forgo the usual lemon or red vinegar and shallot mix. Or rather, taste the oysters first and then season them. Or try another garnish. Life is too short. Tabasco, seaweed, buttermilk, pickled roses, fennel oil: these are a few other ways of eating your oyster.

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