cutlery history - the Akademia Restaurant blog
Cutlery – what is the history of it?
alcohol in the kitchen - the Akademia restaurant blog
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Seafood – how to eat it properly?

Not so long ago, shrimps, lobsters or clams were considered to be pretty exotic products by Polish people. Today plenty of people eat them and it’s not really surprising. On the other hand, consuming them can be pretty difficult. Still, they’re worth giving them a try, as eating them has plenty of unquestionable benefits. Why is it a good idea to try seafood? How to serve it and eat it properly?

Seafood is a pretty controversial topic. Plenty of people just can’t get themselves to like it, listing reasons like the specific smell and look or difficulties with eating it. Those who do like it, on the other hand, tend to be its loyal fans. Seafood enthusiasts order it nearly during every visit at a restaurant, and also like to serve it at home parties. Sometimes it can make for an awkward situation for their less „hip” friends, who have no idea how to it this kind of food and with what.

It is no wonder that many of us see seafood as exotic and have many doubts when it comes to preparing, serving and consuming it. Clams, octopuses or shrimps are hardly national Polish dishes. They arrived here from other countries relatively recently and although they have earned a really impressive group of enthusiasts since then, plenty of people still see them as hardly tasty and difficult „to use”. Of course, the selection on the market is so vast that we don’t have to eat anything that we don’t like or that can’t win us over for different reasons. But on the other hand, seafood is everywhere: in menus of more or less fancy restaurants, at home parties, as well as in supermarkets. If you have ever looked at those delicacies with interest, wondering if you would like it – maybe it’s a good idea to give them a chance. Who knows if they won’t end up on the list of our favorite dishes? There’s certainly at least one person you know who used to avoid trying seafood for some time and now is among its devoted fans.

One of the key arguments for eating seafood is its nutritional values. First of all: just like fish, it is very rich in unsaturated fatty acids that are incredibly beneficial to our bodies. It is worth noting that our body can’t produce them on its own, which means we have to provide them to ourselves with food. Fatty acids support our cardiovascular system and functioning of the brain whereas for pregnant women they are pretty much essential.

Eating seafood regularly also supports functioning of many important organs, such as liver, lungs or heart. Our physical condition and well-being improve. It is because seafood contains many valuable vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B, selenium, fluoride and iodine, as well as a little smaller amounts of vitamins A, D and E, zinc, iron and magnesium. For all those who besides health also take care of their shape, it might turn out to be important that seafood is both easy to digest and low in calories. It also contains a lot of proteins and relatively low amounts of carbohydrates. These facts, combined with abundance of nutrients make this kind of food a perfect addition to a weight loss diet.

Before we start eating seafood, it is still better to make sure if our body will tolerate it. The products from this group often tends to cause allergic reactions. It also shouldn’t be eaten by people who suffer from hypertension and on a low-sodium diet. But to everyone who doesn’t suffer from food allergies or doesn’t have any other reasons for avoiding it – seafood makes a very healthy and tasty element of plenty of dishes.
So if we already know that it’s a good idea to eat seafood, we need to answer another question: how to eat it? It is probably not a surprise to anyone that every type of it has to be eaten in a different way. Seafood is a vast and very diverse group of products, each of them with different characteristics and requiring slightly different eating techniques. Sadly, there is no one universal set of rules – one has to learn how to eat each of them separately.
There are two methods of eating clams. First of them is simple and consists of scooping the meat from inside the clam with a fork. The second is in a way an extension to the other one and assumes a slightly different development after emptying the first shell – we use the empty shells as tongs to pull the meat from the remaining ones with them. Everyone who sees this activity as very unhygienic can rest calm: in restaurants, this dish is served in deep plates or in tureens, and we’re also provided with a water bowl that will be used for cleaning wingers as well as a second plate to put empty shells on. If we decide to prepare clams at home, we should remember to cook them until their shells open up. Whereas when choosing them at store, we should only pick the closed ones – if a shell is open it means the clam won’t be fresh.
Eating a lobster isn’t exactly the cleanest activity, either. Luckily besides the food itself we will also be served a big napkin or a bib that you put on to protect your clothes from stains. A lobster should be grabbed with hands, then have its claws ripped off using special pliers. That way we are able to get to the food inside the claws, which we get out using a long fork. The meat inside the torso should be easier to get – it is usually cut lengthwise to make eating comfortable and convenient. All the steps listed should be performed slowly so that we lower the risk of getting messy.
The way to eat shrimps mostly depends on how they were served. If they make the appetizer, we eat them using fingers, and when they’re served as the main course, we use a fork and knife. If we want to, we can squeeze lemon juice on our shrimps (it is better to cover the lemon with a spoon so that person next to us doesn’t get squirted on). When it comes to eating shrimps using hands, we just grab them by the head and torso, then twist them so that the armor cracks. Then we can pull out the crustacean’s delicious meat. The intestines that look like a black string should better be separated using the cutlery. Sometimes it might also happen that the cook will decide to make it easier for us and serve peeled shrimps with remains of the armor on the tail. In such case me might grab that armor and just eat the meat (and maybe dip it in sauce first). Seafood served in a shrimp cocktail tends to be small and already peeled, so that we can eat it in one bite, alternatively cutting the bigger pieces using a fork.
Clams (also called mussels) can also be eaten many different ways, but when it comes to them it’s not so much about the way they’re served and more about the occasion. If we’re not at an elegant party, it is acceptable to grab the shell in our hand and suck out the inside. Then of course we put the empty shells on a designated plate. But if an official nature of a meeting won’t allow us to be this casual, we should pull the meat out of the shell using a fork, and then soak it in sauce and eat in one bite.
It tends to be very problematic when it comes to oysters, which are served raw with a lemon on the side. If we’re served this delicacy, we should grab it through a napkin, then use a special fork to separate the meat from the shell. If the oyster is closed, we need to open it, prying it open using a knife. Then we squirt lemon juice on the meat and drink it, watching out not to spill the sauce.