Bring back the imagination, the refusal of ordinary, the celebration of color and myriad mysteries. Provide a DJ that requires no requests, and libations that are local and licentious. May the attendees adorn in fancy dress; may they engage in social-littering debauchery. But above all else that is compulsory in the pursuit of the party, let there be oysters.
East Boston Oysters (EBO) has been Boston’s best kept party secret for years – over 4 now – and despite a growing following, Partners in Crime Lexi Cervasio and Grace Ghazey have maintained a trustworthy attendee list who are loyal to the rules. Always in a secret location, always a hashtag, always a theme, and always oysters.
My photos glitter after these events. The backgrounds reveal dance floors beholden to the most extraordinary bunch of misfit toys… Fruit costumes, shark onesies, retro hot shorts, sequin pants… No judgments made; none accepted.
EBO’s smooth delivery of the decadent (think Cheetos dunked in caviar, heaps of lobsters tossed on a table, or an oyster ice luge) had me thinking in general about why oysters, my one true gastronomic love, can embellish any party.
So as with all oyster-centric posts I hope to deliver on Lady Oyster, I bring you three reasons why oysters can bring life to your next soiree. Many thanks to EBO for their epiphany years ago, and conceptually nailing this right from the start.
REASON 1: The Romans Did It.
The Romans were some of the greatest party animals the world has ever known. One of the first known oyster cultivators was a Roman named Sergius Orata (circa 95 B.C.) He was an innovator who engineered some of the first commercial oyster beds in Baia, a place today that has sunk into the Bay of Naples off the south-western coast of Italy. The town of Baia, however, was home to a high-end Roman resort with quite a reputation. Rich Roman socialites retreated there for partying, mischief, sexual escapes – all the vices. Oysters were devoured so much so that they could barely keep up with the demand! Eventually, the craving became so popular in Rome that oyster prices skyrocketed in the city at the time. Today, oysters still maintain their promiscuous reputation and perhaps this is the history where it all started – how the precious bivalve was first associated with parties and pleasure.
REASON 2: They’re the Best Party Nutritional Supplement.
Let’s break down oyster nutrition. Oyster fat is primarily glycogen and starch, which Energy, and the first thing you need to keep dancing all. night. long.
Secondly, did you know that one dozen oysters are less than 100 calories, but contain as much protein as a 4 oz steak and as much calcium as a glass of milk? Wait, what!?! Yes.
Thirdly, they provide lots of vitamin C, which is exactly what you need to fend off your hangover tomorrow morning.
Fourthly, oysters contain all the vitamin B’s, which put you in a good mood! Back in the day, oysters were prescribed for people with depression because the vitamin B’s improved neurological health. It’s a legal form of ecstasy, my friends… Ok, maybe not quite that far.
Lastly, and we should all know this one… Zinc. Tons of Zinc. High levels of Zinc are directly linked to the production of good sperm and fertility. This is why oysters are known as an aphrodisiac.
In summary: oysters make you dance harder, stay happier, love longer, and manage it all with less suffering in the morning.
Also noteworthy: when you attend an EBO event, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of caviar dipping, dolloping and bumping going on. Caviar is also known for its vitamin B’s and and omega 3’s, which help improve your immune, circulatory, and nervous systems. Double winning if you lace your oysters with it.
REASON 3: Cultural Influence.
A party is a celebration, which often invokes glamour, consumption and/or social status. Throughout history, parties have been some of the most telling environments for us to understand culture and fashion. Here are some ways in which oysters were embraced into cultural norms.
In France, they reached the thrones of royalty due to the Court’s insatiable tastes for shellfish, especially being in close proximity to the coast. The Brittany region was and still is an oyster growing capital.
Through the millennia, oysters were given as gifts or solicited for favors to courthouses and prime ministers. #Bartering
Taverns in England in the 19th Century would offer free oysters to ensure their bar patrons kept drinking.
By the 1800’s they became increasingly associated as the perfect complement to a French Champagne. The bubbles and dryness of champagne can balance an oyster’s richness and expose some of the subtle oyster flavors. And no doubt’s champagne is a party luxury.
In New York, oyster basement bars were originally marked with a red balloon and candle, which was the first expression of what people now call “red-light districts.”
Oystermen were notorious for bootlegging alcohol on their boats back in the days of prohibition.
As you can see throughout the times, oysters can be found associated with all levels of abundance, playfulness, and mischief.
…. AND ALWAYS SHARED.
Here`s a final word on oysters as your next party starter. I insist that oysters on half shell should be a gastronomic experience that is always shared. Like wine, reveling in the world’s natural nuances provides us sensory delight, it’s bight size so you can enjoy it slowly, and lets us live in the moment with those we love.