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A lovely tray of oysters on the half shell was beautifully presented to our table as an appetizer on my recent birthday dinner at the spectacular Summit Club in Tulsa.  As an etiquette expert, I want to always feel I know what’s correct for any situation. But, I will admit… I committed a  faux pas with the accompanying sauces and lemon slices on the tray.

It wasn’t a major mistake, mind you…my misstep was simply that I placed small bits of the condiments and sauce on my plate… instead of placing the horseradish and cocktail sauce on the oyster. No one was throwing their dinner roll at me in horror. But, had the chef peeked around the corner, he might have gawked wide-eyed at my foible!

Dining Etiquette 101 doesn’t usually include how to eat oysters on the half shell. So,  I thought I would share with you seven easy steps that will give you confidence and a pleasurable experience when eating this delicacy…and avert any eye rolling by the chef or wait staff!

  1. Do try one, even if your stomach doesn’t think it can handle this squishy, raw delicacy! You won’t be sorry!
  2. Use your fingers to select an oyster shell from the presentation dish and hold it slightly between your thumb and first two fingers.
  3. Next, take a slice of lemon from the presentation tray and squeeze it over the entire oyster.
  4. Add a dollop of horseradish or cocktail sauce from the condiments.
  5. Next, take the small seafood fork that was brought out with the dish, or placed at each individual place, and gently loosen the oyster from the shell where it’s possibly still attached. (However, this loosening may have already been done for you back in the kitchen!)
  6. You are now ready to eat it! Here are two choices for consumption: a.) You may gently tip the narrowest end of the shell into your mouth, or b.) You may gently lift the oyster from the shell and place it whole into your mouth.
  7. With either method, chew it in several bites. You may feel a bit of grit, but this is normal. (Remember, it lived in the ocean!). Simply swallow the grit or discreetly remove it with a quick swish of the napkin to your lips. And, if you chicken out and don’t think you can eat it, just swallow it whole!

You are now an expert on eating oysters on the half shell! Whether you’re on the East coast, West coast, or an inland coast (yes, we Mid-westerners have gorgeous lakes and shorelines!), you can take pleasure in these delicious morsels with confidence!

(Photo courtesy of the Summit Club, Tulsa, OK. Used with permission.)