The F Word

There’s something sexy and dangerous about the sacramental rituals behind certain gastronomic experiences. Like rolling a joint, cutting a line of coke, preparing to drink Absinthe or even just making a really decent cappuccino, eating oysters requires skill, preparation and a flutter of adrenaline. The shucking knife that slides between the two halves of the shell, the squeeze of lemon, the delicate easing away of the flesh without damaging its silky form, and finally the plunge as you tilt your head back and the sharpness hits the back of your throat and the soft sea shape inhabits your mouth for just a few teetering seconds before you swallow. Like many ritualistic experiences, you can’t quite tell whether it’s genuinely pleasurable, but something compels you to do it again…

How did I get onto this gastro-porn anyway? Last night I was fortunate to be introduced to A-fusion, an Asian fusion restaurant on the Zeedijk. Normally sceptical (in fact, more than sceptical – derisive) about fusion food, it was probably a good job I hadn’t really considered the clues in the title before I got there. My Dutch dining companion is a regular there, so we’d called for a table just an hour before; it wasn’t yet vacated when we arrived, so the friendly waitresses organised two little stools for us to sit on by the coat rack while we waited. Hardly salubrious, but they did the job. Once seated, I let the Dutchie decide (yes, uncharacteristic, I know) which mouthfuls of Asian elegance we should sample. We ordered some fresh soy beans in their pods to munch on while we pondered the menu; you could almost feel the magic little beans offsetting the wine we were drinking. Not only is the menu Asian fusion, but the portions are tapas-sized, adding another dimension to the meeting of cultures. Again, I was extremely cynical, but it worked. We had two sorts of dim sum-style dumpling, one of which was Thai; I don’t know how to describe the other, but it made me want to jump up and down and kiss the chef. Next up came shrimp spring rolls from Vietnam and monkfish in sweet chilli sauce that had been mercy-cooked – i.e. not too much.

Oysters at A-fusion
Oysters at A-fusion

But the dish that inspired today’s musings on the illicit naughtiness of food rituals was of course the oysters. We didn’t have to shuck them, they weren’t raw and they didn’t involve lemon. But there was still something powerfully evocative in sipping the sweet-salty-sharp ginger broth from the shells before squeezing the steamed sensation of sea between tongue and teeth… what happened next is not the subject for this blog, but I’ll let A-fusion take the credit.

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A-fusion (Asian)


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