Fruits de Mer

For lunch today, we drove out to Arcachon Bay to sample the oysters farmed there. Nico had recommended a local favorite, Chez Huguette, on the bay in Andernos les Bains.

When we arrived at 11:30, the place was empty and they were just putting up the menu board. The waiter (his English was excellent; he had worked in Florida) said there was only one table available and it was ours if we wanted it.

Huh?

Well, he wasn’t joking. Within 15 minutes, the place was packed, not an empty table in the place and a line outside waiting; all the tables had been reserved but ours.

We started with a dozen large oysters. They were served with the top shell, but they were cleanly opened – an art! I know, my very first job (at age 15) was as an oyster shucker at Hidden Harbor Restaurant in Pompano Beach.

For the main course, we ordered the mixed cold plate: crayfish, prawns, baby shrimp, clams, oysters, crab and two types of snails.

The crayfish and prawns were excellent and well-presented; posed like they were making a swan-dive.

But we really didn’t know what to do with the baby shrimps. They told us to just pop them in our mouths and eat them whole: head, shell and all. They tasted like licorice.

We tried the snails, but eating them raw wasn’t the same as having broiled escargot.

Maybe they can still set the little guys free to slither away – at a snail’s pace, of course.

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