You either love them or loathe them. I especially like the sweeter native oyster (Ostrea edulis), and think it’s a shame that many people miss out on great eating purely on the basis of looks.

Today, oysters are a delicacy, but in the mid-19th century, Charles Dickens wrote that ‘poverty and oysters always seem to go together’. Oysters rose in price sharply after many of our oyster beds became exhausted by overfishing and unfettered industrial pollution. Happily, things are quite different now, and although oysters aren’t exactly cheap, they are accessible.

The saying goes that you should only eat oysters when there’s an ‘r’ in the month. When buying your oysters, choose ones that smell fresh, with clean, bright, shells that are tightly closed and unbroken.

Three ways of eating oysters

* The classic way of eating oysters is raw, naked the oyster, that  is straight from the shell. You can spice things up with a dash of shallot and red-wine vinegar or Tabasco.

* They’re good barbequed in their shells until they pop open and served with a dry-cured Aberdeen Angus steak.

* Tempura style is another favourite. Simply shuck your oysters from the shell, flour them, dip them in a batter of flour and cold sparking wine or beer, pop into the deep-fat fryer for 30 seconds and serve with lemon.