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There can be few things more pleasurable in life than the taste of fresh seafood. This is especially so of shellfish. The novelty of removing the meat from the shells is a fun experience, if you know how to do this correctly. Here is a guide to what is considered the correct etiquette for eating such delicacies.

Lobster and crab are both similar creatures and the etiquette for devouring these types of shellfish are very similar. With a lobster the first thing that should be done is the removal of the large claws from the body, achieved with a firm twist. The claw is then opened with a nutcracker. In a similar vein, the legs of the crab are twisted off one at a time. With the lobster, remove the claw meat with a seafood spoon, dip into sauce, and eat. Generally, crab leg meat is sucked out from the shell. The lobster tail is then broken from the body, split into two carefully, cut with a knife and fork and dipped into a sauce. Meat from the crab’s body is made accessible by turning the crab over and picking out with a fork. The legs of the lobster can be broken off and the meat sucked out if so desired. Both crab and lobster require the same sauces, melted butter for hot seafood of this kind, and mayonnaise if the seafood is cold.

Oysters and clams, when served raw are usually served on the half shell. Etiquette dictates that both these shellfish are served only with a wedge of lemon. When squeezing the lemon over either oysters or clams, be careful to guard against juice squirting sideways. Contrary to popular belief, it is not really considered good manners to lift the oyster or clamshell to the mouth and devour the contents. Instead, secure the shell with one hand, remove the shellfish with a seafood fork, and eat in one mouthful. Do not be tempted to cut the oyster or clam in half as this also is considered bad etiquette.

Steamed clams and mussels regularly make an appearance on restaurant menus. The steaming causes the shell to open. When eating lift the whole shell towards you, away from the plate and remove with a seafood fork. Mussels can be eaten straight away, but the neck sheaths of clams need to be removed first. Again do not be tempted to nibble at the seafood as this is considered bad etiquette. Put the whole clam or mussel in your mouth at once.

Mussels or clams served in a thin sauce can be eaten as above, and the sauce can be mopped up with some crusty bread.

If prawns are served whole break the head away from the tail, remove any bits of skin that remain, and consume in one.

Follow these guidelines to make shellfish eating a pleasure rather than a chore.