In France, people always wait until January 1, at the earliest, to say « bonne année », and around Saint-Aignan they often add « et surtout, bonne santé ». Officially, we have until the end of January to express our good wishes — « meilleurs vœux » — for 2016. I've now expressed mine to you.
New Year's Eve for us means oysters, so here are five photos of ours. Walt bought two dozen oysters of medium size (numéro 3 on a scale that goes from 5, the smallest, down to 1, the largest) for about 12 €. We steamed the open — most of them — this year, except for half a dozen that I shucked so we could try them raw on the half-shell. In the photo above, you can see that the one in the foreground on the right has started to open up. It's ready to be removed from the steamer. See this Wiki-How web page for information about cooking oysters.
These are the farmed oysters called « fines de claires » — they are fattened in saltwater ponds on the coast down near the Ile d'Oléron for weeks or months before they are brought to market.
We are lucky to have a fish and seafood vendor who drives up from the Oléron area to Saint-Aignan every week, bringing us the freshest seafood you can imagine. I blogged about the seafood at the market a few weeks ago here.
The last two photos are before and after shots. Steaming them open doesn't fundamentally alter the taste or texture of the oysters — they are not cooked but more or less mi-cuites, like a good foie gras. And it's a lot safer than risking stabbing yourself in the hand with the oyster knife when you shuck them raw.