“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me … an Eventide fried oyster bun …” Much tastier than a partridge in a pear tree, don’t you think?
Thanks to flourishing Maine oyster farms, local oysters are slurped and savored with gusto year ’round. However, in the days before refrigeration, the briny bivalves were once an eagerly anticipated delicacy at Christmas and the winter holidays — only in December was it cold enough to ship them, packed in ice, to markets away from the coast.
The tradition of eating oyster stew for Christmas Eve is said to have originated with Irish immigrants, who substituted the readily available shellfish for a variety of fish they couldn’t find in America.
In honor of the oyster’s association with the holidays, and with the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” playing in your head, feast your eyes on these twelve oyster dishes from restaurants in Portland and beyond.