by Heather Vecchioni | Contributing Writer
Have you heard the one about how the spelling of a month’s name can determine whether you should eat oysters at that time? Before refrigeration, oyster experts said mollusks should only be eaten in months that contain the letter “R.”Basically, this boils down to noshing on the shellfish from September through April.
Fortunately, those who enjoy their beloved bivalves don’t have to wait for the fall and winter to slurp up this juicy seafood. Oysters, as long as they are grown in healthy waters and are handled properly after harvesting, should be safe to eat year round.
Some argue, however, that oysters taste better in the colder months. They spawn during the summer, which leaves them with a weak and watery flavor, but they typically thrive in colder water, which makes many believe they have a better taste when harvested in the fall and winter.
With Maryland’s official oyster season from Oct. 1 to March 31, you’ll find area restaurants serving up some of their freshest oyster dishes, including Marie’s Diner in La Plata. Located at 6325 Crain Hwy., this family-style joint serves up fried oysters, typically starting at the beginning of the fall.
“We are gearing up to have a really good oyster season,” said owner Bobby Cooper. “We always have people ask in August to bring our oysters back.” Bobby says his diner’s cooking technique has made his fried oyster dish popular.
“I think what customers like the most about our oysters is their size and flavor,” he said. “They like how we lightly bread ours and then fry it real quick. A lot of restaurants use a little oyster and cover it in breading. We only use a small amount of breading.” If you want to try your hand at eating oysters at home, go with an oyster whose signature flavor shines, Bobby suggests.
“They should have brininess,” he said. “And you should also use a good oyster knife when opening them because you have to be really careful.”