Voluptuaries through the ages join me in proclaiming the oyster the nonpareil of erotic foods. The reasons for its reputed aphrodisiac powers are numerous, and many of them are obvious. M.F.K. Fisher sums it up tidily in Consider the Oyster: “Most of them are physiological . . . and have to do with an oyster’s odor, its consistency, and probably its strangeness”.
It’s true that the very act of prizing open an oyster and looking at the mysterious creature, frilled and translucent in its saline habitat, might induce the same voyeuristic flush, however unintended, as a moment in front of Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde. And if you ask me, there’s something inherently lusty about slurping a live creature from its shell with all its liquor–which is the only way to do it, really. One would have to eat a great many oysters to benefit from their nutritional content (the oyster is rich in zinc, which boosts testosterone production), but the great seducers of yore seemed to have no trouble polishing off a hundred at a time, to allegedly great effect.