So, followers of the "Chesapeake Oysters" page may have seen the photo above recently, taken during my trip to Paris. Of course, as an 'ostreaphile' (or oyster connoisseur), I can't help myself- when I travel, oysters mysteriously seem to get included on my itinerary- whether it's consuming them by the dozen or peppering raw bar staff with questions about their products. Oyster related tools are another fun thing I like to explore. For every culture that loves oysters, they have usually developed regional ways of opening, serving and eating shellfish. That also means cool and creative oyster knives (which also make easy to pack, functional souvenirs to impress your friends with later).
A quick survey on facebook indicated that most people thought the blue knife to be the sturdiest-looking, with the black knife following closely behind. The wooden-handled knife from Paris' classic chef-supply store, Dehillerin, was viewed by one skeptical reader as "a trip to the emergency room," so, not a great vote of confidence there.
So, once home from Paris, I was excited to get a couple dozen oysters and try them out. After a few attempts (and no trips to the hospital, thankfully), here's the results:
First was the Deglon. I used it at the hinge and was first struck by how petite the knife was. Both the blade and the handle were quite small- much smaller than my regular go-to oyster knives. However, it felt sturdy and worked well to deftly open the oyster, with almost no tearing to the oyster's meat. I wasn't worried about the tip breaking or anything, and I felt that it would stand up to a good amount of use. Overall, it was a great little knife, and the handle is a little sexy, too.
Next, I tried the generic shucking knife. Like the Deglon, it was much smaller than the typical American shucking knives I tend to use- the handle was smaller and the blade was shorter (and much more pointy!). Unlike the Deglon, it did feel insubstantial and as one commenter pointed out, the fragile-looking pointiness of the blade made me a little nervous to attack the hinge with my customary gusto. So, before I went for it, I made sure my shucking glove was ready. The result was okay. It was a decent, clean shuck with no damage to the oyster, but it took longer than usual. I considered doing the French side-shuck, but that's not my favored approach so I scrapped it. Overall, this was an adequate knife. Not a disaster, and certainly it worked well enough, but I wasn't in love. It wasn't oyster art.
Finally, I got to the final knife of the evening- the shucking knife from the iconic E. Dehillerin cooking store. It is actually made for the store as its store-brand staple, so I had high hopes for this beautifully crafted oyster knife. However, those hopes were dashed as I attempted to shuck my first oyster. The blade runs all the way through the handle, yet it still felt like I was going to break it at any moment at the hinge. Figuring it was user error, I headed around to the side, French-style. That produced the oyster you see above- a blendered, destroyed mess. The knife felt insubstantial and frankly didn't navigate the interior of the oyster shell well at all. It's a shame since the knife is so pretty, but perhaps we can find some use for it at my house paring apples or something.
The final verdict? The Deglon was the hands-down winner. It was inexpensive, sturdy, and fun to use, and felt different enough from my American-made knives that it warranted its 'souvenir' status. Even better is that you don't have to go to France to get one! You can buy one
here on Amazon for the very reasonable price of $13, which is approximately $870 less than a round-trip flight to Paris (although then you miss out on savoring the amazing French oysters, which in my mind, are truly a priceless life experience).