Facts about oysters

--Oysters are hermaphroditic, meaning they are both male and female, alternately assuming the egg- and sperm-producing functions of each sex.

--The rule about eating oysters only in months spelled with Rs is an old wives' tale, possibly springing from a French royal decree that banned harvesting during oyster propagation season.

--Oysters can be stewed, fried, pickled or canned, but devotees prefer to eat them raw, which — make no mistake about it — means live. "A fresh oyster on the half shell is no more dead than an ox that has been hamstrung," William K. Brooks wrote in an 1891 scientific study of the bivalve.

--Oysters nourish themselves by straining nutrients from seawater. In optimum conditions, the European flat oyster filters 1 liter of water an hour; the Portuguese 3 to 5 liters and the Japanese as many as 7 liters.

--Napoleon is said to have consumed oysters before every battle.

--The great Italian womanizer Casanova believed oysters had aphrodisiacal powers, an idea that persists. Is there any truth to it? Eat a dozen and see.

—Susan Spano

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Standoff

    A STANDOFF ESCALATES: A boat carrying a U.S. Navy crew rushes to bring humanitarian aid to the fishing trawler Ching Fong Hwa in November. The trawler had been overtaken by pirates off Somalia, and a Chinese sailor was killed.

  • Bomb detected
    Bomb detected

    BOMB DETECTED: Iron, a German shepherd trained to sniff out explosives, weapons, wires and other threats, and handler Sgt. Joshua T. Rose, right, wait as military explosives experts investigate a bomb that Iron found south of Baghdad.

  • On the job
    On the job

    ON THE JOB: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Blake T. Soller follows his explosives-sniffing dog, Pluto, in a home being searched for bombs southeast of Baghdad.

  • Viewer Picture by
  • 5-day-old

    Broward Sheriff firefighter/paramedic Gisela Bass brings a five-day-old newborn to a waiting ambulance Monday night.

  • 9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Game 5 NBA Finals, May 14, 1980.
    9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Game 5 NBA Finals, May 14, 1980.

    The setting: With 33 seconds left in a tie game, Abdul-Jabbar scored on a dunk and was fouled by Julius Erving. Abdul-Jabbar made the free throw and the Lakers won, 108-103, at the Forum. The significance: Abdul-Jabbar sprained an ankle late in the third quarter and limped to the locker...