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Food for thought…

Brain food is a thing. The greatest minds in history have all had specific relationships with food. When we scour the gastronomic eating habits of geniuses of old, we’ve found that food has played a pivotal role.

Many were inspired by the food they ate (our great relative had quite the thing for apples for example), while others had very peculiar dining habits indeed.

We’ve all heard of Pythagoras. Greek genius mathematician. But did you know he hated beans? So much so he forbade his followers from eating them – or even touching them. Believing that the plants connected earth to Hades, with each bean containing a soul of the dead.

According to legend it was this hatred of beans that aided in his murder, as when attackers ambushed his options were either certain death or escape by running through a field of beans. He picked certain death.

Now, many geniuses were vegetarians – long before it was fashionable. Leonardo Da Vinci, Gandhi and supposedly Albert Einstein. While others sat on the opposite end of the spectrum. Charles Darwin, the greedy-guts, not only studied exotic animals but ate them.

Whilst at Cambridge Darwin headed the Glutton Club, whose members met weekly to gossip and gobble “strange flesh”, including owls, hawks, and bittern. Later, aboard the Beagle, he tucked into armadillos, iguanas, and tortoise.

It may not be so much the food or drink that ensures genius, but rather the conviviality a good meal engenders.

The Viennese Coffee Houses of the golden age were the internet of their time. The price of a cup of coffee and a slice would get you a warm room – at a time when heated housing was scant – a newspapers and more intellectual chit chat than you could shake a stick at (which was helpful as all newspapers came mounted on long wooden poles).

Or there was the Oyster Clubs of eighteenth-century Edinburgh. Which served as mixers for the intellectual hoi polloi of the time. The club’s founders, economist, Adam Smith and philosopher David Hulme – consumed fistfuls of oysters and claret by the pint – all the while pontificating and theorising learnings too high-brow for the likes of us.

Until now… the geniuses over at Chesil Smokery (our neighbours and local fish connoisseurs) have cooked up a cider and oyster recipe that’s sure to energise your inner intellectual (no matter how deep that might be!).

As we march on into September traditional oyster eating season has at last started once again (any month with an ‘R’ in its name).

So, when better to test the hypothesis of the learned eighteenth century Oyster Clubs? Get yourself a crate of our creativity inducing Isaac Cider, some Chesil Smokery oysters (packed with brain food like omega 3) and see what world changing revelations you come up with.

It’s certainly the tastiest scientific experiment we can think of!

RECIPE: Serves 2 or 4 as an opening course.

8 rock oysters

½ pint sweet Isaac cider (we recommend REFRACTION)

1 clove of garlic – peeled and sliced

1/2 inch of ginger root – peeled and shredded

1 stick of lemongrass

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 whole star anise

2 spring onion – washed and sliced

1 fresh red chilli

A few drops of rape seed oil

 

Simplicity: Easy! This recipe is a “one pan wonder” and can be made into more of a meal by simply adding a few noodles to the broth.

Stack the oysters in a pan with a tight-fitting lid and add the cider, lemon grass, and star anise. Put the lid on the pan and place on a high heat. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. The Oyster shells may not pop open like clams but trust that they will be ready after this time.

Remove the oysters and their shells from the broth and leave them on a plate or dish nearby to cool just a little. Pass the broth through a fine sieve to remove the lemon grass, shell shards and star anise. Put the broth into a clean, small saucepan and simmer. Add some soy to taste, along with the garlic and ginger.

Meanwhile, gently open the oysters reserving any juices inside and place the cooked meats on a small plate. Add any liquid to the broth making sure it is not too salty. Now, turn off the broth and divide the cooked oysters between serving dishes. Garnish the oysters with chopped spring onion, sliced red chilli and a little rape seed oil. Pour the hot broth over each dish and serve immediately.