An old wives tale dating back to Roman times, are oysters the ultimate Valentine's treat?
‘It Was a Brave Man Who First Ate an Oyster’, said Jonathan Swift in the 1700s, but people had been enjoying these meaty molluscs for long before. Fossilized oyster shells from many coastal civilizations can be found dating back to the Stone Ages, their growth in shallow waters and reluctance to move making them an easier target than hunting for meat.
During the Greek and Roman empires, oysters were a delicacy for the wealthy class, with the Greeks becoming the first civilization to cultivate oysters. Our favourite shellfish became embedded in society, with oyster shells being used to cast ballots in Greek voting processes. The Greek god, Aphrodite, Goddess of Beauty and Love was said to be born from the sea in an Oyster, and here begins the age old connection between Oysters and Romance!
Eaten for their aphrodisiac qualities, sometimes with gluttonous bravado, Italian adventurer, author and famed romancier, Giacomo Casanova wrote in his autobiography that he would eat up to 60 oysters a day to help fuel his passions. The belief of the oysters affectiveness to increase desire has traditionally been linked to their high zinc content, and recent research has found a link between raw oysters and a rare amino acid that helps to stimulate hormones.
Whether you buy into this old folklore or are happy to enjoy oysters regardless, we look forward to welcoming you to Bentley’s this Valentine’s day for a platter of Casanova’s finest!