Simon likes oysters. He really, really likes them; while others dither and squirm, he's busy shucking and slurping. His perfect holiday destination is the Ile de Ré where he can combine cycling and shellfish, and buy oysters which get cheaper and cheaper the more dozens you buy.
Just before Christmas I bought him an oyster plate for a couple of quid. We haven't yet eaten any oysters from it, but it turns out to be a brilliant plate for keeping lemons and ideal for ripening avocados.
The closest we have come to anything in a shell are shell-shaped madeleines, so now it's also a cake serving plate.
I knew nothing about oyster plates until I started writing this post. My plate is unmarked and no doubt worthless, but there are some very beautiful antique oyster plates which can set you back £600 or £700. They are made by companies such as Minton, Wedgwood, Gien, and Limoges and like all well-designed practical objects, they combine function with beauty (and wit and colour).
There's even a book on the subject. I should have known. I could become an oyster plate collector and ripen a whole Chilean valley's-worth of avocados on my windowsill, because I certainly wouldn't be able to afford the oysters as well as the plates.
*Apologies to Shakespeare and The Merry Wives of Windsor Act II, scene ii