FOOD + DRINK
THE WORLD IS
Briny, pearly, sweet and plump, the ultimate
shellfish treasure, decoded.
BY PHIL BARBER
He was a bold man that first ate an oyster,” Jonathan Swift wrote. Who can say what prompted early humans to pry open that jagged shell and slurp down a gray-green
jiggly mess that smelled like the sea from which it was
plucked? But we can guess at their reaction, because
it was probably a lot like our own: I can’t believe I
find this thing delicious.
Oysters are the opposite of the processed, white-lab-coat-created foodstuffs that have come to dominate our
world. In fact, they’re the antidote. Want to explore your
inner hunter-gatherer? What could feel more primal than
evicting a bivalve from its home and devouring it whole?
If you love oysters, you almost certainly have a
preferred method of preparation. It can be as simple
as a drop of Tabasco and a crack of pepper on a raw
oyster, or as involved as a rich baked dish like oysters
Rockefeller. Grilled or fried or boiled, they always
feel a little exotic, and miraculously manage to retain
that delicate flavor of ocean air.
Part of the oyster’s allure is its variety. Almost
anywhere you go, especially if it’s within a truck haul
from the coast, there is a local favorite that boasts
a unique size, shape and flavor profile. We offer
here a few of the most revered to start your hunting
POUSSE EN CLAIRE, FRANCE
Pungent, earthy and slightly challenging, oysters have been raised
to a gastronomic art in France. This is especially true in the Bassin
de Marennes-Oléron, in the Charente-Maritime region on the Bay of
Biscay, where families have been raising oysters in shallow, salty artificial beds (called claires) before harvesting. Pousse en Claire spend
the longest time in the beds, nurturing a complex sequence of tastes
that o;ers a nice balance of saltiness and fruity sweetness.