The most storied shellfish of all is worthy of its place in our imaginations – and on our tables, says Clarissa Hyman.
Competitive oyster eating down the centuries makes for an eye-opening, stomach-gurgling list. Casanova ate 50 a day; Henry IV and Louis XIV as many as 300 in a sitting. The champion oyster-swallower, however, still has to be the Roman Emperor Vitellius, who is said to have regularly eaten 100 dozen oysters at a time, which may explain why his reign lasted less than year. That and the fact he spent more than the equivalent of £8 million on his imperial table in that brief period. When in Rome, as they say. As has frequently been noted, it must have been a brave soul who first ate a raw oyster. Desperate, I would say, as there’s no getting away from the fact we eat them both raw and alive. Thankfully they neither shriek when prised open nor squeal when jabbed, but as an American zoologist calmly noted: ‘Even thoughtful people callously look for the muscular twitch as they drop lemon...read more
Other seasonal produce
Not just good lookers: putting peppers and their hotter cousins chillies on the menu can actually raise your spirits; no wonder they’re addictive, says Clarissa Hyman with recipes by Linda Tubby
Fiesta-bright bell peppers are the mariachi bands of the fruit and veg counter. Fire-engine red, canary yellow, blazing orange and rainforest green, they infuse any dish with party spirit. The trafficlight packs are the first rung on the heat ladder to a sweet sun-ripened heaven – or a spicy...read more
Late summer is the time to savour the ripe, honeyed pleasures of the fig. Clarissa Hyman explores the delights of this ancient, sensual fruit with recipes by Linda Tubby
The first taste of a ripe fig from a sun-warmed tree is like the memory of your first kiss, a moment you never forget. Figs fill the mouth with sweetness. They are the most sensual of fruits, and at the peak of their lush ripeness have an incomparable fragrance and texture. Figs are also edible...read more