Petar and Kosta Petrov are the people who came to the idea of making the first oyster farm on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near the village of Kranevo. Oh yeah! There are oysters in Kranevo!
Kosta and Peter grow oysters of the Crassostrea gigas type – known in many places in Europe and America. It is characterised by its elongated shell, as well as by its excellent taste. Generally, this oyster lives on stones, rocks, or in mixed sandy and stony seabeds at a shallow depth of 1 m to 50-70 m. Its population is very sensitive to water temperature, especially during its multiplication, which happens at a temperature of ca. 18-20 degrees. And the minimum salinity, in which it may exist, should not be less than 12 ‰ (per mille). The Black Sea, which is otherwise much less saline than the Mediterranean and the World Ocean, still provides 17 ‰ (per mille), which clearly reflects well on this representative of the marine fauna.
Oysters are distinguished from other shellfish mainly because their two shells are different. One is flat and it is used to attach to rocks and other hard surfaces or the oysters lie on that side on the bottom. The more protruding other shell shelters the body of the oyster, consisting of a mantle that covers the other organs and secretes the substances that actually build the shell; large gills with breathing and filtering function and a strong muscle that opens and closes the shell. From the culinary point of view, all the soft parts of the oyster and even the sea water it holds in the shell are of interest. Although at first glance the oyster’s body looks too slim and soft, it is quite the opposite – the texture is very tender, slightly wiry and without even a hint of mucus.
Oyster cultivation probably started first in China, and in the Mediterranean – in Greece. From the times of the Roman Empire, there is real evidence of this. Otherwise, the oysters have never been absent at any beachfront table and have always been food that is sought-after. Cultivation has greatly facilitated the collection process, and it is remarkable that ancient and modern ways are actually quite similar.
It all begins with the collection of oyster larvae, which can be done straight out into the sea through various devices on which the microscopic future oysters are attached.
Consume them as you like
The exquisite attitude towards the oysters – raw, served in ice bowls, champagne on the table, sometimes a few delicate drops of lemon in the shell, that is what we are accustomed to react to in Europe. But these shellfish are too ancient to limit themselves.
Oysters can be both very intimate food, as well as very social. They can be cooked in any other way – fried, boiled, as a soup or even in a pie. In Korea they include them in the preparation of kimchi. One of the classic American recipes is “Oyster Rockefeller” – oysters are first boiled and then baked with a mixture of bacon and spinach and grated Parmesan cheese.
Many, however, insist that the best way to enjoy the oysters is when they are served raw, in the shell, along with sea water. It is like trying the taste of the ocean itself! The mussels are not swallowed as a whole, but they are chewed at least 2-3 times. This makes it easier to taste the differences between the different types of oysters. They depend on their species, as well as on the salinity of the water, its temperature, the presence of tides, the season and even the way of farming. When tasting oysters, attention should be paid to the sweetness, minerals content, taste aroma and the texture of the meat, whereas separately is described the water retained in the shell.
Such tastings are usually held in specialised oyster bars, which have been established in Britain since the middle of the 18th century, when they were started as more generally accessible pubs, whereas now they have become places really dedicated to this delicacy. The closest to Bulgaria oyster bar is Le Vivier in Bucharest, where they offer five different types of French oysters.
Oysters – the favourite food-aphrodisiac from antiquity to the present day
Some foods are just said to be aphrodisiacs, however, others actually do possess this quality, and this has been recognised since antiquity. Oysters may not be the most common products in your menu, but maybe it is time to change this. Few things can be compared to the delicate, fine marine flavour and scent of the oysters, appreciated by the Roman Emperors, the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite and the most famous seducer, Casanova.
In support of the arousal influence of the oysters, there have been conducted modern studies linking the content of specific amino acids to the catalysis of human sex hormone synthesis. In addition, each oyster is loaded with a substantial impact dose of useful substances. First of all, oysters contain extremely high quantities of vitamin B12 – in 6 oysters there is about 270% of the recommended daily dose. Surely, for a long time you will forget about bad mood and depression (two of the common symptoms of this particular vitamin deficiency). Plus, you get the incredible over 500% (of the regular daily dose) zinc, 180% copper, 76% selenium and 31% iron, 70% vitamin D, as well as omega-3, omega-6, etc. fatty acids, vitamins and minerals in smaller quantities.