With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many will be thinking about the best way to treat their loved one to a romantic evening.
Be it a candle-lit dinner, stunning bouquet of flowers or sweet stroll along the river, there are plenty of ways to woo your significant other on the day.
But as I thought about what I could do with my boyfriend of six years, Kartik – my mind kept wandering to a news story back in October – where a woman in Atlanta, Georgia, sensationally slurped away 48 oysters on a first date.
The influencer, who goes by the name EquanaB on TikTok, went viral after she filmed herself ordering four dozen oysters at Fontaine’s Oyster House and noisily knocking them back during the dinner.
And that wasn’t all.
Elmira, 26, pictured, ate 48 oysters in an attempt to channel the viral ‘Oyster girl’ EquanaB, from Georgia
Once she finished the lot, the woman ordered crab cakes and red-skinned potatoes, which she said were a ‘ten out of ten’, and sipped on two lemon drop cocktails throughout the night.
Her date didn’t think so, and after telling EquanaB that he was going to the bathroom, he left and never came back.
EquanaB’s story came and went – prompting a myriad discussions about whether her date was right to ditch, and if should have offered to pick up the tab or not – but I couldn’t help but stay entranced.
Soon no one else was talking about it, but I had only more and more questions as the months passed by.
How filling are oysters? Is 48 really a lot? Are they calorific? How regularly does EquanaB do this?
I was also baffled by the choice to go to an oyster bar in the first place – after all, are they even a good date food?
Oysters are in theory known to be the most famous aphrodisiac because they are an extremely rich source of zinc – a critical mineral for the production of sperm and testosterone.
But in reality there aren’t many studies directly linking zinc to sexual health. One study published in the US Library of Medicine did find that zinc supplementation increased testosterone production, the main hormone linked to sex drive, but said there were limited effects on helping to alleviate sexual dysfunction in men.
Elmira admitted that while the challenge was entirely doable, it was still a curious choice for a first date
Elmira was full of praise for the oysters (pictured) but felt they were an overwhelming first date meal idea
The reporter teamed her oysters with lemon, Tabasco and a glass of white wine for the romantic date
Elmira braved her way through 48 oysters after a viral TikToker did the same thing on a first date
There is also limited research to suggest that adding zinc to your diet helps to increase sex drive.
All this to say – I knew it was time to investigate things for myself.
When I first asked Kartik how he felt spending a romantic dinner watching me eat 48 oysters – while he had a meal of his choosing – at the Burger & Lobster restaurant in Soho, he begged that we bring a third person along ‘in case of medical emergency’.
Since October, he had gradually become increasingly worried, watching me wax poetic about ‘the Oyster girl’ and now his worst nightmare was coming true. I was no longer just talking about ‘the Oyster girl’ – I wanted to become ‘an Oyster girl’.
Eventually he was won over by my extensive research – showing that oysters are not only very low in calories, so likely to be un-filling, but are also incredibly rich in vitamins – and a growing curiosity as to whether EquanaB’s feat was truly as intimidating as it seemed.
When we arrived at the restaurant on Dean Street, our very kind waiter’s face quickly turned horrified as I asked for 48 oysters.
‘Why don’t I bring out a dozen and we’ll see how you feel?’ he suggested – with Kartik desperately chiming in in agreement – but I doubled down.
Elmira says she didn’t have any side-effects (other than feeling a little full) after the dinner – and even felt a little peckish after
The oysters came with some onion, Tabasco and lemons – making for a perfectly refreshing selection
My game plan was to separate the shellfish into four sets of 12 as a way to pace myself. I also wanted to make sure I kept it nice and slow.
The first six oysters were basically nothing. I was quite hungry, and they were fresh and absolutely delicious – so they were gone in seconds. I doused mine with a hit of Tabasco as my boyfriend warily enjoyed a lobster roll.
We also ordered a bottle of white wine – a recommendation from our waiter – in attempt to emulate the two cocktails EquanaB had on her date.
Soon enough, I finished up the other six too. I realised that perhaps putting Tabasco on each one may not be sustainable as my lips started to burn so decided to take a break and go for lemons on the next round.
With the first dozen done, I had forgotten I was doing anything out of the ordinary. Kartik and I simply fell into normal conversation, enjoying our evening.
By then however, I was already firm in my belief that I couldn’t imagine doing this on a first date. Not because the oysters were in any way off-putting or difficult, but because after Kartik finished his meal within a half hour, he simply had to watch me eat.
In EquanaB’s case – her date had only had the drinks.
Around one hour later, I was already halfway done, with 24 empty oyster shells piled behind me.
Briefly, I wondered if EquanaB had really loudly slurped all of hers as demonstrated in the video, because I felt my lips drying up and decided to stick to spooning them out.
A comparison I frequently made in my mind is that I equated eating 48 oysters to 48 sips of soup.
But while I wasn’t necessarily feeling bad at this point – I felt entirely neutral, and not even bloated or that full; in fact, I kept stealing Kartik’s fries – I did begin to feel a bit like I was swimming in the ocean. This was not how one would feel after 24 sips of soup, I decided.
But as I was slipping away into an oyster-induced daze, the atmosphere in the restaurant elevated as waiters and other diners now appeared curious and excited by my endeavour.
Kartik – who had started out hesitant – was becoming animated as he at various points applauded me after I’d knock back another oyster. I wondered if EquanaB had similar reactions before her date had slinked away into the bathroom.
It was only at 42 oysters that I truly started to question if I could finish the whole thing. My boyfriend and I had gotten on the subject of the Star Wars movies and whether we liked the Disney movies when I started to feel – for the first time that evening – full.
Kartik was mid-rant about Kylo Ren when I had to ask him to stop talking for a moment because I began to feel a touch nauseous.
I imagine, in an entirely different and incomparable context, that this is what marathon runners mean when they ‘hit the wall’ and feel like they can’t go on any longer.
Kartik and Elmira enjoyed a dinner a Burger & Lobster – and Elmira made her way through 48 oysters
In the end however, Elmira says she’s not sure she can ‘with her whole heart advise against eating 48 oysters on a first date’
But after a few game words from Kartik, as well as an encouraging look and thumbs up from our waiter, I found my second breath – broke through ‘the wall’ – and slurped the last six oysters in a quick fire-round.
I didn’t have any side-effects (other than feeling a little full) after the dinner. In fact, a couple of hours later I found myself feeling quite peckish and we ordered a pizza at home.
Moreover – and I wasn’t sure if this was related – but I had the most intense, entirely dreamless sleep of my life afterwards.
I woke up feeling well rested. It’s perhaps no wonder – as oysters famously contain melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep better and is even used in treating insomnia.
Moreso than an aphrodisiac, I found this shellfish is an excellent way to ensure a restful night.
The rest of my weekend after the dinner passed by uneventfully until the Sunday evening before work – where a bad takeaway left me feeling nauseous and riddled with cramps.
I wondered if perhaps my stomach was simply overworked after an experimental weekend, but the more likely answer is that the questionably greasy dish I ordered left me with a touch of food poisoning.
However, while I applaud EquanaB’s stamina, I still find this a bizarre first date practice. I had only a third of her full meal – which featured two side dishes and cocktails – and still felt a little bit like I’d been pushed off a pier.
And while we enjoyed our time, I can’t imagine someone would want to watch me methodically eat seafood unless they had been with me for six years.
Also, while I’m an oyster enjoyer, I do struggle to see them as a great romantic meal – sometimes I’d be left digging around my mouth for bits of shell, or needing to try and catch the slippery shellfish in my mouth after under-committing to a slurp.
In the end however, I’m not sure I can with my whole heart advise against eating 48 oysters on a first date.
It was a delicious meal, a conversation starter, and to quote EquanaB herself – who has since come out with a album titled Oyster Tuesday – ‘you invited me out… I’m gonna eat!’