Friday, November 04, 2005

Oysters Exploded

Several posts back, I used the urban legend about only eating oysters harvested in months with “r” in them. I used this to make a point about “r.” This is an urban legend, like giant alligators in the New York City sewers, and I knew it.

Let me ‘splain. Oysters are “in season” during the “r” months, September through April. According to Nobody Ever Tells You These Things by Helen McCully (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, ed. 1972), “Actually, oysters are edible any time of the year, but they spawn in the summer and are, therefore, thinner and less succulent. Further by the very nature of things, if they were not allow this spawning period (enforced by the government), there wouldn’t be any oysters.”

McCully’s book was originally published in ’67. In 1971, NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller (remember him?) permitted the year-round consumption of oysters.

James Trager, in The Food Chronology (Henry Holt and Company, 1995), writes, “The European oyster (Ostrea edulis) tastes gritty in the summer months because it keeps its young within its mantle cavity at that time of year, but the American oyster (Crassostrea virginica) discharges its eggs directly into the water. Pacific Coast Oysters have been sold the year round.”

These days, you are as likely to get farm-raised oysters (depending on what part of the country you’re dining in). Here in Houston, we get sweet-tasting oysters even in May, June, July, and August. Barbara and I enjoy every dozen we eat. Don't like oysters? Good - that means there are more for us.

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