Are oysters really aphrodisiacs? I’m asked that question every time I present an oyster-and-wine-pairing seminar, host a group of oyster lovers on an oyster farm, or train a restaurant’s staff. I am far from the first to opine on the subject, but I do have my own take on what I consider to be the most interesting, storied, and—yes—arousing of all foods and rituals.
For years we’ve known that oysters are loaded with zinc and amino acids that support brain function, and since the brain is the largest sexual organ (aside from the skin), it stands to reason that eating oysters will turn us on.
Oysters are among the most virile and fertile creatures on the planet. Not only is most of their body mass dedicated to reproduction, but these bivalves also dedicate most of their time and energy to the production of sperm or egg in the summer spawning season—their sexual organs can produce both. And while spawning, oysters will "ejaculate" or project sperm or egg into the water as many as 90 times a day. That's a fact. Now, will eating fertile or virile things put you in the mood or make you more fertile or virile? Science can’t prove the connection, but I believe that an undeniable psychological effect does take place.
Also, eating oysters, in my opinion, suggests that you are daring, taboo, or wild, willing to consume things others are not. Don’t misconstrue: “Let's have some 'Shoregasms'” doesn’t translate to “Let's get it on right after dinner.” But at the very least, oysters are indulgences and the act of indulging in one thing can lead to the act of indulging in another.
Finally, we can’t ignore the consumption itself. Choosing your oysters, dressing them, delicately slurping them from the shell, savoring them... it’s all foreplay.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chef John Paul Peebles