Food & Drink

You’re Eating Oysters Wrong and Don’t Know It

Saucing and slurping is for amateurs. Go au natural and follow up with a big chew.

By Amy Rosen   |   April 03, 2021

  Stephen Harris, Tourism PEI
Bit of an over-achiever. Oysters are packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc and copper.

Whenever I’m on Prince Edward Island, I find myself walking around with briny hands and wet sleeves—and that’s how I like it. Because that means I’ve been enjoying all of the island’s fresh seafood, especially oysters. Yet on my last visit, I couldn’t help but think I could be doing a better job at it. So I headed over to Claddagh Oyster House for a quick etiquette lesson from champion oyster shucker Marc Dolan, who shucks up a plate for me, along with a few slurping tips.

Slurp's Up
The warm, shallow waters of Prince Edward County’s bays and estuaries provide the perfect environment for oysters. Annual production figures in the province regularly surpass 3,000 metric tonnes.


1. I’ve always wondered if you’re supposed to stack the empty shells on a side plate or put them back on the ice. Turns out, once you’re done, you’re meant to flip the oyster shells over so the cup side is up in the ice (meaning the shell’s upside down). “Sometimes you’re looking at the oyster plate and it’s hard to see if you’re done. This way, with the dark shell, we can tell,” says Marc.

2. Thoughts on loading raw oysters with lemon, hot sauce and mignonette? “I’d rather see you put nothing on the oyster at all and just enjoy the natural beauty of them—what the oyster’s meant to taste like.” 

3. Slurp or chew? “I say chew, three or four times, then swallow,” Marc says. “That way, you get the full texture, the full flavours, the whole deal.”

Amy Rosen

Amy is a James Beard–nominated, award-winning journalist. Previously, she was food editor at Chatelaine and Canadian House & Home. She has written five cookbooks and is the owner of Rosen’s Cinnamon Buns.

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