Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oyster Lit

I recommend today's NY Times article: "Oyster Farmers Find a Boutique in the Bay" about oyster cultivation and the growing recognition that "If something that grows in the sea could have a terroir, it would be oysters." The specific oyster beds of this article are owned by the Shinnecock Indian reservation on Long Island, but the article's discussion ranges around the East Coast and the vast number of oyster varieties there. Every little cove practically has its own variety, to the point that some, they say, may be confused. The spring oyster season is coming to an end as the oysters fatten up and prepare to breed. In summer, as the old traditions say, oysters just aren't as good to eat, and may even be unsafe.

The Times article in some ways duplicates some of the material more fully covered in Mark Kurlansky's The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, which goes over a vast amount of New York history from the oyster-eater's and oyster-grower's points of view.

This article really brought to mind The Oysters of Locmariaquer by Eleanor Clark, first published in 1959. Locmariaqueur is in Brittany, on the rough Atlantic coast, and the author paints a picture of a challenging and sometimes very dangerous environment. Like today's Times article, her book has a great deal of information on the difficulties faced by those who wish to cultivate oysters, as opposed to just gathering them. I've been meaning to reread this classic of food writing.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Oysters haven't been on my radar since an unfortunate incident in Paris.

The French doctor's words to me then were "no oysters between the 30th of March and the 30th of October."