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The Oyster Companion

For oyster freaks, this photo-rich book is indispensable…

Not surprising given that its author, Patrick (“Shucker Paddy”) McMurray, is himself a globe-trotting master of the mollusc. Owner of Toronto’s (recently closed) oyster-friendly Céilí Cottage, he holds the Guinness World Records title for the world’s fastest oyster shucker.

In The Oyster Companion, he chronicles the mollusc’s history around the world—Roman emperors calculated their weight in gold—and documents an oyster’s life (some oysters have both male and female organs and can switch sex). He goes on to describe varieties of global oysters and their complex flavours—subtle notes of cantaloupe and driftwood, anyone?

McMurray challenges the adage that one should eat oysters only in months with the letter R. “The rule originated in the days before reliable refrigeration,” he writes, “when oysters couldn’t be transported to market in hot weather without spoiling quickly.” The book provides recipes, detailed instructions for shucking and sources for oysters around the world. — P.H.


The Oyster Companion: A Field Guide, Patrick McMurray, Firefly Books, $19.95