Do Oysters Really Produce Pearls? 5 interesting facts about the slimy little creatures

One in 280,000 people are struck by lightning each year—one in 10,000 oysters produce a pearl during their lifetime

If you love oysters and happen to live in a coastal town, you’re lucky—because naturally, you have a plethora of options when it comes to finding restaurants that specialize in serving the little bivalve. But what if you’re in landlocked Indianapolis? Where can you go to find a hearty supply of fresh-shucked oysters and the required accouterments?

As it turns out, there are a number of purveyors in town who offer one of the sea’s most divine treats and one of my favorites is The Oceanaire Seafood Room, in downtown Indianapolis. The restaurant has one of the city’s best selections of seafood and for National Oyster Day (August 5) they always offer chef select oysters for $1 each. And with names like Sea Cow, Raspberry Point and Flapjack (among many others), at a “Buck a Shuck,” you can feast away and try every single one. To learn more of my picks for oysters in Indianapolis, checkout this article I wrote for Edible Indy. And just for fun, here are six fun facts about oysters you might not know—even if you do live in a coastal town.

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  1. Only eat oysters during months with the letter “R.” When water is warm—i.e. the summer months—there is a higher prevalence of the marine bacteria known as Vibrio vulnificus… but, MOST* people aren’t susceptible to infection from the bacteria and are free to enjoy the little mollusks 356 days a year.
  2. There are boy mollusks and girl mollusk. True, but both male and female oysters have gonads which produce both eggs and sperm—which means they are hermaphrodites and can change gender if they want to. Easy Peasy.
  3. It’s ALIVE. Or is it? If you’ve enjoyed the delicacy on the half shell, then yes, chances are the little creatures are still alive. But that’s OK. It means they’re fresh … and no one wants to eat an oyster that’s been “living” in a fridge for weeks on end.
  4. Oysters have gills.Oysters are like fish in that they take oxygen from water as it passes through their gills, and discard the carbon monoxide. And, believe it or not, the little guys (and gals) also have hearts, kidneys, stomachs and intestines. Who knew!
  5. Oysters are an aphrodisiac. Well, the famed 18th-century lover Casanova ate 50 oysters for breakfast every morning. Seemed to work for him, but the official verdict is still out.

*Certain medically compromised individuals have an increased risk of serious illness or death from eating raw molluscan shellfish. Although these illnesses and fatalities are rare, medically compromised individuals are urged to abstain from eating raw or undercooked molluscan shellfish. At greatest risk are persons with liver, stomach, or blood disorders; individuals with AIDS, diabetes, cancer, or kidney disease; and chronic alcohol abusers. Those uncertain of their health status should seek the advice of their physician. SOURCE: | 30 S. Meridian St., Ste. 100, Indianapolis | 317.955.2277

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Featured Image, Oysters on a half shell. Photography courtesy of Landry’s Inc. All other photos are my own.