Casanova, who admitted seducing 122 women in his memoirs, offered his own serving suggestion in Volume Six: “I placed the shell on the edge of her lips and after a good deal of laughing, she sucked in the oyster, which she held between her lips. I instantly recovered it by placing my lips on hers.”
In London, at Bibendum, Sir Terence Conran’s Chelsea Oyster bar, most customers seem to be taking their oysters in more conventional fashion – with a squirt of lemon, a dash of red wine vinegar and shallots, a drop of tabasco, or just slurped plain from the shell.
“I like the taste,” said Claude, 76, a retired university lecturer from Deauville, France, demolishing a dish of Bibendum’s fruits de mer with Liliane, his wife. “And no, I won’t be eating more now you’ve showed me the scientific evidence.
“I’ve already fathered two children and I can assure you that was nothing to do with oysters.”
His wife agreed. “Aphrodisiac qualities? It’s a myth,” she said.
There was similar scepticism from Alex Colas, 35, a university lecturer from Willesden Green, north London, and his wife Ishani Salpadoru, 32, a family doctor.
“I know they have a reputation,” said Mr Colas, “but that’s not why I am eating them.
“It is a sensual experience though – the fresh taste of the sea, the slippery, silky texture.
“Perhaps that’s why it works as an aphrodisiac for some people. If you are find something sensual, it heightens your senses and perhaps one thing leads to another.
“I don’t think I get a chemical reaction from them, though.”
His wife was trying oysters for the first time. She tipped the shell, slurped and pondered. “There is something sensual about the texture, but no, not sexual,” she said.
“I’m probably getting more from the chili sauce, to be honest.”
The scientists stressed that the oysters have to be eaten raw to be most effective. Cooking them reduces the quantity of D-Asp and NDMA molecules.