Cafe Society

Want to try oysters? Don't forget the training wheels...

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."

See also: Jax Glendale is a net gain for the Denver dining scene

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.

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?

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz