Thursday, October 29, 2009

Do you know what it means ... ?

No raw oysters for most of the year? Exactly what would it mean to New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities with storied oyster production and consumption traditions? Of course, there are the thousands of jobs which would be directly affected, and there are the many thousands more who would suffer economic effects.

What many may not realize is that what the FDA's regulation could do is have a cataclysmic effect on local culture. Even if we start from the premise that eating dead, previously irradiated or frozen oysters is OK, which it is not, there's no getting around the fact that a dozen Gulf oysters will cost 2 or three times as much as they do currently. Remember, this regulation applies to all oysters that are harvested in the Gulf 8 months during the year, so whether they're being cooked or not, they must be processed. What that means is that your $8 oyster poor boy now costs $15+ ... there's nothing poor about that!

More than just the price increases, however, is the loss of our cultural identity. There are the rituals associated with eating raw oysters, there are the oyster-centric gatherings, the festivals, the shuckers, and the great ones (like Thomas at Pascal's Manale) are a culture unto themselves.  New Orleans still has what so many other cities have lost, our living history. We haven't "sterilized" our city because it would cease to be "our city," and become just another "disney-ized" place that really means very little to the people who live there.

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