Originally created 11/05/06

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OYSTER SEASON

IS IT OYSTER TIME?

It's safe to eat oysters all year long, but many people, including Philippe Chin, chef and owner of Cuizine Restaurant in Aiken, prefer oysters in the winter. "As a purist I always like my oysters in the months ending in -er," Mr. Chin said.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE OYSTERS?

When choosing oysters to prepare at home, they should be live seafood, Mr. Chin said. The oyster should be closed or if slightly open, push on the shell and it should close.

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Web site (www.dnr.state.ga.us/dnr/coastal), there are a number of diseases caused by eating improperly harvested oysters. Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, weakness and fever.

According to Mr. Chin there are different tastes from different regions. You will find that most of the oysters from the West Coast tend to be more fatty, more milky than oysters from the north.

ALIVE OR DEAD?

There are many ways to prepare oysters, Mr. Chin said. "There is a risk factor. If the oyster is tough to open or tough to shuck it means it is alive, and when it's opened there is water residue. If there is no water residue it means the oyster is dead. If there is no water residue I would not eat it. There should be resistance when trying to open it."

HOW SHOULD THEY BE HANDLED?

As far as specific procedures for handling oysters, Mr. Chin said to talk with the person you're buying from. Don't buy oysters if they're more than five days old.

A person who knows nothing about oysters can buy them already shucked and in a sealed plastic container of liquid that makes them safe to eat. Do that only if you're using the oyster as an ingredient in a cooked dish.

To make oysters more appetizing to people who don't care for them, fry them in peanut oil.

Sources: Philippe Chin, chef and owner of Aiken's Cuizine Restaurant; Georgia Department of Natural Resources

TODAY

MID-ATLANTIC SECTIONAL BRIDGE TOURNAMENT: 10 a.m.,; Elks Augusta Lodge 205, 205 Elkdom Court; $8 a session for members of the American Contract Bridge League, $8.50 a session for nonmembers; (706) 833-6496.

PIANIST ARTHUR TOLLEFSON: 2:30 p.m. at Southside Gallery, 752 Silver Bluff Road, Aiken. A silent art auction will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m., and light refreshments will be served. Tickets cost $25, and seating is limited. Call (803) 649-6757.

CRUISE-IN: The Aiken Horsepower Association will hold its free monthly cruise-in from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Laurens Street in downtown Aiken. Call (803) 648-4761.