A WORD IN YOUR SHELL-LIKE

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Since oyster etiquette dictates that their consumption is only allowed when there is an "r" in the month, oyster aficionados up and down the country are salivating at the imminent arrival of September. To mark the occasion in London, Hay's Galleria is hosting its annual Oyster and Seafood Fair, which last year netted more than 20,000 crustacean-lovers. As well as tastings, visitors can also mug up on little-known gems such as the fact that in 1984, several tons of crushed oysters were mixed with cement to repair the roof of Colchester Castle in Essex, or that oysters are ambi-sexual, starting life as males and then changing back and forth between the sexes.

Evidently, there is an art to opening an oyster since, for the first time, the fair is hosting the Tabasco British Oyster-Opening championships, a competition open to professionals and amateurs alike and scrutinised by a band of food celebrities, including chef Patrick Anthony of Ready Steady Cook fame. Each contestant must open 30 oysters in the shortest time possible in the hope of going on to represent Britain at the International Oyster-Opening Championship in Galway, Ireland, in the last week of September.

Hay's Galleria, Tooley St, London SE1 (0171-626 3411) to Sun

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