For 2000 years,
oysters have been cultivated and prized for their unadulterated, tender, plump taste of the sea. The subject of mythology and folklore, beloved bivalve stories travel the continents. Born from oyster sea foam, the Greek goddess Aphrodite emerges from the Ionian Sea on an oyster half shell and is forever more associated with a unique ability to stimulate more than just the appetite. In 1864 on a visit to San Francisco, Mark Twain felt compelled to “destroy oysters done up in all kinds of seductive styles”. His choice of language is no accident.
The meaty bivalve's celestial reputation has skyrocketed and these marine crustaceans are experiencing a renaissance. North America is cultivating oysters along the Pacific and Atlantic shores and the Gulf of Mexico in unprecedented quantities. Easy to sustainably grow and harvest, nutritious and delicious, it is no wonder they are making a welcome comeback. Once an inexpensive food of 19th century working class citizens, the unintended consequences of Industrial Revolution, pollution, and introduction of foreign species in New World waters nearly wiped out native American oyster beds. Today, these sea creatures are the subject of farmers seeking to keep local waters clean (each oyster filters 25 gallons of water per day) and sustainable aquaculture practices. Nearly every oyster farmer in America today is an entrepreneurial steward of the environment.
As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste of that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.