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Shellfish

Lets get past the first major question: are oysters nature’s Viagra? You have probably heard it before, but is it true? For hundreds of years, people have claimed raw oysters are an aphrodisiac; the famous 18th Century Italian romantic, Casanova, reportedly ate 50 raw oysters for breakfast everyday to improve his libido! While research is not conclusive on this matter, there is some evidence that suggests shellfish (not just oysters) may provide amino acids that aid in the production of sexual hormones. A study led by Dr. George Fisher found that these amino acids found naturally in raw oysters (the compounds break down when cooked) leads to increased production of testosterone in animal tests. Nothing Scientific here. However, this sexy bivalve packs a wallop of zinc, which is great for making you feel good and keeping up your energy. Not only does the zinc boost your sex drive, but it also ups your immune system, helps get rid of acne, eases rashes and makes your bones stronger.

Types of Oysters

Sure you have over a hundred varieties of oysters, but did you know that all of these hail from only five species? And of those you have the Pacific Oysters (or Japanese Oyster), Kumamoto Oysters, European Flat Oysters, Atlantic Oysters and Olympia Oysters. Aside from the water they grow in, what makes these bivalves different from each other are the shells. The European Flat has a large, straight shell with fine ridges, whereas the Pacific Oysters are smaller with wavy casings. Kumamotos are also smaller, and the shell is rounder and pale, which is similar to the Olympias, though this one has a smoother shell with a bit of iridescent coloring. Finally, the Atlantic species looks like a comma or tear drop and tends to be on the larger side.

Geoduck

Correct pronunciation of the word "geoduck" (a large clam native to the Pacific Northwest) is practically a citizenship test for Northwesterners. It may seem counterintuitive based on the spelling, but you say it "gooey-duck". When you first encounter a geoduck, if your mind doesn't go straight to the love muscle, says Damiana Merryweather, the general manager of Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar's Queen Anne location, "you're blind or willfully ignoring it."

The brininess and crunchy texture draw chefs to the clams. Most tend to keep preparations simple: it's already imbued with strong flavors of the sea and blessed with crunch. The geoduck has two parts: a long neck, which pokes out of the shell, sometimes called the siphon, which is often served raw, in a ceviche or crudo preparation, and the much thicker body or breast, which has been sheltered inside the shell. 

Top-notch geoduck weighs about two and a half pounds, has light-colored meat, a long neck, and fetches top dollar—mostly in China. There, says Paul Taylor of Taylor Shellfish Farms, expensive, imported live seafood is a mark of status at business meetings and gatherings held at restaurants. Geoduck is also considered an aphrodisiac for obvious reasons, though the Chinese name translates to the much more clean-minded "elephant trunk." It's often found served in hot pot, though is sometimes fried, salt-and-pepper style, stir-fried with XO sauce, or used to add flavor and texture to congee.

 

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