With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many will be thinking of the best way to treat their loved one to a romantic evening.
Whether it’s a candlelit dinner, a beautiful bouquet of flowers or a nice walk by the river, there are many ways to woo your partner 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 ate 48 oysters on a first date slurped away.
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 slurping them back during dinner.
And that wasn’t all.
Elmira, 26, pictured, ate 48 oysters in an attempt to channel viral ‘Oyster girl’ EquanaB, from Georgia
Finishing 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 he was going to the bathroom, he left and never came back.
EquanaB’s story came and went – sparking a host of discussions about whether her date was right to ditch, and whether or not she should have offered to pick up the tab – but I couldn’t help but remain enthralled .
Soon no one else was talking about it, but I just had more and more questions as the months went by.
How filling are oysters? Is 48 really a lot? Are they caloric? How often does EquanaB do this?
I was also baffled by the choice to go to an oyster bar in the first place – after all, is that even a good date food?
Oysters are theoretically known as 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 American Library of Medicine did find that zinc supplementation increased testosterone production, the main hormone linked to sex drive, but said it had limited effects on alleviating sexual dysfunction in men.
Elmira admitted that while the challenge was completely doable, it was still an odd choice for a first date
Elmira was full of praise for the oysters (pictured) but felt they were an underwhelming idea for a first date meal
The reporter paired 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 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 about spending a romantic dinner watching me eat 48 oysters – while he had a meal of his choice – at the Burger & Lobster restaurant in Soho, he begged us to bring a third person ‘in case of medical emergency’.
Since October he had gradually become more and more worried watching me wax poetic about ‘the Oyster Girl’ and now his worst nightmare was coming true. I no longer just talked 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 probably unfilling, but also incredibly rich in vitamins – and a growing curiosity about whether EquanaB’s performance was really as intimidating as it seemed
When we arrived at the restaurant on Dean Street, our very nice waiter’s face quickly turned horrified when 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 agreeing – but I doubled down.
Elmira says she had no side effects (other than feeling a little full) after the dinner – and even felt a little peckish after
The oysters came with some onions, Tabasco and lemons – making for a perfectly refreshing choice
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 while my boyfriend gingerly enjoyed a lobster roll.
We also ordered a bottle of white wine – a recommendation from our waiter – in an attempt to mimic the two cocktails EquanaB had on her date.
Soon enough I finished the other six as well. I realized that putting Tabasco on each one might not be sustainable since my lips were starting to burn, so decided to take a break and go get lemons for the next round.
With the first dozen done, I forgot I was doing anything out of the ordinary. Kartik and I simply fell into normal conversation and enjoyed our evening.
By then, however, I was already firmly in my belief that I couldn’t imagine doing this on a first date. Not because the oysters were at all unpleasant or difficult, but because Kartik finished his meal in half an hour, he simply had to watch me eat.
In EquanaB’s case – her date only had the drinks.
About one hour later, I was already halfway done, with 24 empty oyster shells piled up behind me.
I briefly wondered if EquanaB really swallowed her all out loud as demonstrated in the video because I felt my lips dry up and decided to spoon it out.
A comparison I often made in my mind is that I equated eating 48 oysters to 48 sips of soup.
But while I didn’t necessarily feel bad at this point – I felt completely neutral, and not even bloated or that full; in fact, I kept stealing Kartik’s fries – I did start 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 slipped into an oyster-induced daze, the atmosphere in the restaurant lifted as waiters and other diners now appeared curious and excited by my effort.
Kartik – who started hesitantly – became animated as he applauded me at various points after I knocked back another oyster. I wondered if EquanaB had similar reactions before her date snuck away in the bathroom.
It wasn’t until 42 oysters that I really began to doubt whether I could finish the whole thing. My boyfriend and I got on the subject of the Star Wars movies and whether we liked the Disney movies when I – for the first time that night – started feeling.
Kartik was mid-rant about Kylo Ren when I had to ask him to stop talking for a moment because I was starting to feel a little nauseous.
I imagine, in a completely different and incomparable context, that this is what marathon runners mean when they ‘hit the wall’ and feel like they can’t go on anymore.
Kartik and Elmira enjoyed a Burger & Lobster dinner – and Elmira made her way through 48 oysters
In the end, however, Elmira says she’s not sure she can ‘wholeheartedly 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 find my second wind – breaking through ‘the wall’ – and slurp down the last six oysters in a rapid fire round.
I had no side effects (other than feeling a little full) after dinner. In fact, a few hours later I was feeling quite peckish and we ordered a pizza at home.
Also – and I wasn’t sure if this was related – but afterwards I had the most intense, completely dreamless sleep of my life.
I woke up feeling well rested. It’s perhaps no wonder – because oysters famously contain melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep better and is even used in the treatment of insomnia.
More than an aphrodisiac, I’ve found this shellfish to be an excellent way to ensure a restful night.
The rest of my post-dinner weekend was uneventful until the Sunday night before work – where a bad takeaway left me feeling nauseous and riddled with cramps.
I wondered if maybe my stomach was just 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.
While I applaud EquanaB’s stamina, I still find this a bizarre first date practice. I only had a third of her full meal – which included two side dishes and cocktails – and still felt a little like I’d been pushed off a pier.
And while we enjoyed our time, I can’t imagine anyone would want to watch me methodically eat seafood unless they’ve been with me for six years.
Also, while I’m an oyster connoisseur, I struggle to see this as a great romantic meal – sometimes I’m left gagging for bits of shell, or have to try and catch the slippery shellfish in my mouth after undercommitting to a trunk
In the end, though, I’m not sure I can wholeheartedly advise against eating 48 oysters on a first date.
It was a great meal, a conversation starter, and to quote EquanaB himself – who has since come out with an album titled Oyster Tuesday – ‘you invited me… I’m going to eat!’