The Brazilian hostel manager recommended several Floripa* attractions. One of her recommendations was a local dish called Ostra Gratinada, a local delicacy. Oysters are farmed in abundance on the island, called Ostras in both Spanish and Portuguese. Gratinada refers to Gratin, a light coating of melted cheese, possibly breadcrumbs and other sauces. I ate Ostra Gratinada twice.
Once after several hours of surfing. They brought me a plate of about fifteen huge oysters covered in this creamy cheese sauce. It was delicious, and I surprised myself by eating it all. Oysters are a wonderful food, packed with zinc and interesting amino acid profile in their protein that some scientists believe is responsible for their famous aphrodisiacal effects. Lacking a central nervous system, they also are unlikely to feel real pain. There is even a subsection of veganism known as ostro-vegans, who will consume oysters and perhaps some other shellfish on the grounds that they feel no more pain that a fruit or vegetable. The problem with this shellfish is the lack of calories. After hours of surfing I had burt up a lot of energy, eating fifteen oysters alone would be quite filling, but wouldn’t replace the energy I needed. The cheese sauce solved that problem, adding an interesting new flavour to the dish and making it tastier than it sounds.
The second time I had the dish was at a different restaurant. It was horrible. There was nothing wrong with the oysters, but the sauce, a simple melted cheese, wasn’t good. It didn’t mix well at all with the shellfish. Out of a plate of ten, I ate about four before I decided I was torturing myself. I don’t know which version of the gratin is more traditional, but the creamy one is better.