Consider The Oyster _BEST_
An oysterman who has leases in Galveston Bay is responsible for creating his own reefs. Leaseholders dump loads of cultch (usually empty oyster shells) into their underwater plots, where free-floating larvae settle during the spring spawning season, become spat, and over the next eighteen months grow into plump, delicate oysters ready for market. They are then harvested from the decks of boats called luggers, which are equipped with a wheelhouse, a canopy to shade the oysters, and a winch, which lowers and raises a giant rake with a net attached, called a dredge. A captain positions his oyster boat over a reef. His crew marks the harvesting spot by sticking cane poles into the bay floor (the water is an average depth of eight feet) and lowers the dredge. The captain maneuvers the lugger in tight circles around the reef; when the net is full, the dredge is pulled in, and the crew dumps the catch onto sorting tables. Empty shells and oysters that are too small (less than three inches across) are thrown back; the rest are processed and delivered to market.
Consider the Oyster
I used to work in fine dining kitchens in New York City. There, a type of oyster called Kumamoto oysters are very highly prized and usually shipped all the way over from Japan. Kumamoto oysters are very milky and have a very strong oyster flavor. But the same milky, fresh, melon-like flavors so prized in these oysters actually reminded me of Korean oysters. I was a little sad about the fact that Korean oysters were so underappreciated even though they have a very similar flavor. This is actually one of the reasons that brought me to start bburi.
1. Un-shucked: normally those oysters are not found in local supermarkets, but you can find them at the fish market. They are usually cheaper than shucked oysters. You can also ask the seller to open one so you can examine it. Like oysters on the half-shell, the smell should be fresh and oceany and the flesh should be plump and glossy.
The poem does a wonderful job implicating all of us in the failures of environmental management. Oh, that Army Corps of Engineers has scrapped together a few doozies when it comes to dams. Deepwater Horizon is touched upon, as are cultivators of the oyster from Roman antiquity to the hourly wage shuckers of today.
With all of the responsibilities one assumes helping colonize a new land and chronicling such explorations, it seems Captain Smith did not have time or want to fuss with documenting food and wine pairings. Alas there is no direct connection between oysters and wine pairing from the early settlers that chronicled their experiences (that I could find).
The oyster is an ancient species, and one that has evolved little over millions of years. It is found in the tidal waters of every continent but Antarctica, on the shores of every sea but the Caspian. It flourishes best in the bays and estuaries where salt- and fresh water mix and people build resorts. And despite the saying that it was a bold man who first ate one, the oyster has been consumed by humans since before the oldest certifiable man-made artifact.
The bulk of these two enthusiasts must not, however, be blamed on Bluepoints. Prodigious feats of oyster consumption were possible because oysters are as much as 89 per cent water. There are only about seven calories in the most colossal C. virginica . Eating a hundred is scarcely more filling than drinking a quart of beer.
It is a matter of supply. In 1850, the Mid-Atlantic and Chesapeake states alone recorded a catch of 145,000,000 pounds of oyster meat (shells excluded). In 1901 this had declined to 111,000,000, to 45,000,000 in 1935, 28,000,000 in 1960, and 26,000,000 in 1970. These figures work out to a national oyster feast on Chesapeakes alone in 1850 of six pounds, six ounces for every American man, woman, and child; by 1977 the catch amounted to a paltry six ounces per person, not much more than a middling Lynnhaven on the half shell.
M.F.K. Fisher, whom John Updike has called our "poet of the appetites," here pays tribute to that most delicate and enigmatic of foods---the oyster. As she tells of oysters found in stews, in soups, roasted, baked, fried, prepared à la Rockefeller or au naturel--and of the pearls sometimes found therein--Fisher describes her mother's joy at encountering oyster loaf in a girls' dorm in he 1890's, recalls her own initiation into the "strange cold succulence" of raw oysters as a young woman in Marseille and Dijon, and explores both the bivalve's famed aphrodisiac properties and its equally notorious gut-wrenching powers. Plumbing the "dreadful but exciting" life of the oyster, Fisher invites readers to share in the comforts and delights that this delicate edible evokes, and enchants us along the way with her characteristically wise and witty prose.
Join us as we consider forests as viewed through oyster shell pinhole cameras, native oyster restoration at the Presidio and oyster farming and feasting in Tomales Bay. Participating artists and scientists: Margaret Ikeda and Evan Jones, Taylor Griffith, David Janesko, Gwendolyn Meyer and Jonathan Young, and Chris Kallmyer.
Another area where art + architecture meet with environmentalism are the parametric 3-dimensional oyster substrates designed and fabricated in the Architectural Ecologies Lab at CCA. These are designed to provide a habitat for oyster growth at the newly-opened Quartermaster Reach.
I grew up 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. A gallon of oysters in the refrigerator was not unusual. We all ate them raw with our Dad. Mama made her oyster stew with milk. She finely chopped onions and celery and sautéed those in butter then added the rest. Certainly clam juice was never used.Thank you. Love your articles always.
We decided to start with a slew of oysters and a simple bowl of clam chowder. The oysters arrived first, nestled in their shells in a tray of ice and served with lemon, champagne vinaigrette, and ketchup. Shortly after, the clam chowder arrived with three clams, still in their shells, the meat waiting inside like a small treasure. The soup was thick, much heartier than the watery soup I had tried a few months before.
What better time than summer, these hot months without "r"s in them, to consider the oyster? I reread M.F.K. Fisher's masterpiece for maybe the 15th time on a recent afternoon. It's short enough to read in one sitting, but I warn you: Make sure you have immediate access to oysters afterward. She practically commands you to go straight out and order a dozen or two raw ones on shaved ice and wash them down with a thin, cold white wine, no matter what the month. And M.F.K. Fisher is not a writer whose suggestions ought to be taken lightly.
It opens with a witty overview of the "dreadful but exciting" life of an oyster. Then come descriptions and recipes for certain ways oysters can and should be eaten, either raw, in their shells with various condiments and buttered brown bread, or cooked in buttery, milky stews and soups and all manner of other delicacies. Fisher is democratic and broad-minded but firmly opinionated at every turn; on the question of what alcohol goes best with oysters, she runs through the possibilities and concludes that just about anything will do. The book ends with nostalgic memories of other people's oysters past: her own mother's schoolgirl treat of baked oyster loaf, a San Francisco bohemian's breathless passion for an oyster omelet he called Hang Town Fry, the story of a young virginal man's wishful and fruitless overindulgence, and a fleeting, poetic boyhood trespass on a Chesapeake Bay oyster bed at dawn.
If there is a philosophy implicit in these pages, it is that great pleasure in food is there for the taking. Food is not a metaphor for life. It is life, and eating is an art. Now, more than ever, in this era of obsessive self-denial, obsessive overindulgence and obsessive moderation, it is deeply satisfying to be reminded that, as Fisher writes, "often the place and time help make a food what it becomes, even more than the food itself." In the hands of such a writer, reading about eating oysters is almost as good as eating them, and sometimes even better.
The best way to shuck an oyster (and minimize the amount of shell shrapnel you ingest) is to insert the tip of the oyster knife in the hinge of the oyster, apply firm pressure downwards at a 45 degree angle until the knife goes into the oyster and the oyster releases. The two halves of its shell will loosen and you can more easily run your knife around the edges to free the oyster from the shell. Detach the oyster foot from the shell, apply your condiments and enjoy!
In the Gulf of Mexico, fisheries serve as the cornerstone of a $220 million-dollar national industry, producing nearly half of all oysters consumed in the U.S. each year and impacting the state economy to the tune of $43 million annually. Put simply: Thriving oyster populations are vital to the health and prosperity of the Gulf region.
The excitement begins when adult oysters begin reproducing at water temperatures greater than 68 degrees, typically occurring from May to October. As broadcast spawners, the oysters release eggs and sperm into the water column, and once fertilized, the egg develops into larva (spat) that remains free swimming for three weeks. Towards the end of this period a foot or pedi veliger develops, and the oyster settles to the bottom of the water column looking for a hard substrate. Once a hard surface like an oyster shell is located, the larva cements itself, and the metamorphoses to the adult form occurs. The spat cannot grow until it finds a hard surface. Gulf oysters feed mainly on single-cell plants and flourish in estuaries, where nutrient-rich fresh water rivers meet coastal saltwater.
Rich in history, Apalachicola began commercial harvesting of oysters in 1850, and it is a unique fact that the Union Navy allowed oyster harvesting to continue uninterrupted in Apalachicola Bay during the Civil War, even though the Federal blockade of the Southern coast was in effect.