Eating oysters is like learning to ride a bike: It's best approached with training wheels. More than taste, the texture is what really gets people -- which is why Sheila Lucero, executive chef of the four (and counting) locations of Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, recommends sandwiching oysters between a cracker and cocktail sauce.
"That's good for beginners," says this Jax veteran, who professes to like oysters in "any way, shape or form."
I prefer oysters naked -- no cracker, no sauce, not even a squirt of lemon -- so that I can taste every bit of brininess or sweetness that the slippery little suckers decide to throw at me. And they threw plenty when I visited Jax Glendale for this week's review; the oysters were so tempting that I caught myself adding a few to my already substantial order, as if the bivalves were an impulse buy at the checkout counter.
Still, I know from experience that oysters aren't the only foods that go down easier with training wheels. If I happen to be at a Vietnamese restaurant with friends who have never tried pho, I usually recommend they start with pho ga, made with shredded white-meat chicken, rather than sach (tripe) or gan (tendon). Likewise, if someone hasn't tried ceviche before, I recommend not a cracker and cocktail sauce but a stiff mojito chaser.
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What are other foods that you've learned, bit by bit, to like? And are there some -- like uni, which friends have said they'll never, ever swallow again -- that are so strong and/or unfamiliar, even training wheels won't do the trick?