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Perhaps the greatest of all aphrodisiacs, the oyster symbolizes virility and passion for all who indulge. From Petronius to Casanova, oysters have unleashed their powers of seduction on unwitting prey and restored life to lagging libidos.

The oyster’s powers are best experienced when eaten on the half shell. In this state, the oyster looks fresh, jiggly, meaty, and wet. For some, it represents the masculine with its similarities to the testes. But for most, it is the feminine exposed, naked, resting in its half shell, nether petals of pink and gray fluttering out from the meat onto a pearly white backdrop.

If the sheer visual effects of the oyster do not suffice, add in their briny flavor, salty like the sea, their smooth, slip-down-your-throat texture, and their substantial nutritional benefits to the human body.

They are low in fat and high in complex sugars and proteins. More importantly, though, oysters are loaded with zinc, a key ingredient to testosterone production and sexual performance for both genders.

creating the image

Before nyotaimori became all the rage in Japan, with young women acting as serving platters for the artistry of sushi, Randall and I were trying to figure out what on earth to do with oysters for InterCourses. We wanted the oysters themselves to be the focus, not the act of eating them, which is a spectacle in itself. By arranging the oysters on a man’s stomach with his arm over his head, we hoped to communicate the veritable full-course tasting menu that was available for dinner, should anyone be interested in indulging. And yet, this whole scenario is only hinted at by the angle, shot upwards from below his stomach. Any extrapolations stem from one’s imagination, a key ingredient to successful aphrodisiac cooking.


photo by ben fink
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