All of my favorite culinary newsletters and magazines have officially proclaimed September “prime oyster season,” and that statement would normally elicit nothing more than a disinterested shrug from yours truly.

Despite the repeated claims of chefs who’ve declared oysters the food of lovers, I could never really get excited about them. They aren’t exactly what you’d call beautiful and after nearly choking on one in public (more on that in a minute), I simply didn’t get what all the fuss was about. If anything, I had to hand it to whatever marketing department dreamed up the idea of them as the perfect beginning of a romantic dinner.

When Will and I were visiting Manhattan a couple of years ago, we hit up an incredible steakhouse in Midtown. Now for anyone who knows me well, you have to be thinking that “incredible” isn’t the right adjective since I don’t really eat red meat. It’s true, I won’t touch a steak; but steakhouse sides, the creamed spinach, the onion rings, the macaroni and cheese, are well worth the price of admission in my book. It’s like Thanksgiving where the accompaniments are often better than the turkey.

For our appetizer, we ordered one of our standbys, fried calamari, and because we were on vacation, Will decided to splurge and order oysters as well. Once they arrived, he dug right in, and being the gentleman he is, he asked if I’d like one. After refusing initially, I finally decided to get adventurous and give the slippery little buggers a try. After pouring a bit of hot sauce on one, Will advised me to “let it slide down my throat.”

Of course, I decided to take his words literally, thinking that chewing oysters, like cutting up spaghetti, for example, was apparently not the right thing to do. So I let this strange little creature “slide down” my throat, and before long, I was coughing wildly enough to briefly stop the business meeting going on at a nearby table. After drinking some water and collecting myself, I found out that “letting them slide down your throat” wasn’t something I was supposed to take literally. At that moment, I knew me and oysters were through, not that our romance really ever began.

But when we were in San Francisco this past summer, Will ordered oysters again. While seated a stone’s throw from the mighty Pacific on, perhaps, the world’s prettiest day (sunny, breezy, 70 degrees), our server brought out a dozen oysters that changed my mind. Presented beautifully with a gorgeous green mignonette and lemon wedges, they smelled just like the sea. And as Will enthusiastically enjoyed the sea’s precious treasures, I decided to give them another try, and I (gasp) loved them.

They were tender and almost a little sweet and tasted so incredibly fresh with the herbs of the mignonette adding the perfect accent. At long last, I finally began to understand their allure, and even enjoyed them in another preparation for our entree, dredged in flour and cornmeal and fried to perfection, on a po’ boy sandwich. Even with the quick fry, I could still taste the sea, and thanks to Hog Island Oyster Co., I think I’m officially an oyster convert. Or at least a California oyster convert. As for thinking of them as the food of lovers, however, I still think I’ll stick with chocolate.