Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oyster Quote of the day

"Oysters are the most tender and delicate of all seafoods. The stay in bed all day and night. They never work or take exercise, are stupendous drinkers, and wait for their meals to come to them."
Hector Bolitho 'The Glorious Oyster' (1960)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Choupique on top

OK, oyster lovers who aren't from Southeast Louisiana may not be aware of the beauty that is "Choupique," the black bowfin fish (even more ancient than the Sturgeon) which produces a wonderful row. It used to be fairly inexpensive, and you'd sometimes hear it referred to as "Cajun" caviar.  Neither is now the case. It can now be ordered online, and it's not cheap ... generally around $10-$15/ounce. As far as I know, it has to remain refrigerated, and is seasonal to the winter months around here.  There might be other areas producing it that I'm not aware of. It pairs particularly nicely with raw oysters, as the shiny, firm, naturally black eggs are light in flavor, and don't overpower our local bivalves.

Oyster facts

Here's a tidbit, thanks to Ilene Polansky.

"There is no way of telling male oysters from females by examining their shells. While oysters have separate sexes, they may change sex one or more times during their life span. The gonads, organs responsible for producing both eggs and sperm, surround the digestive organs and are made up of sex cells, branching tubules and connective tissue."

Can coastal restoration and oyster beds coexist?

I find it's amazing that there are still people who make a mutually-exclusive argument, one way or the other. Of course they can coexist. We need well-funded smart people to figure out exactly how to make it work, but at least Earl Melancon Jr. has the right attitude:

"I think things have gotten to a level of action that we've not seen before because we're starting to see money pumped into the state, from one source or another," said Earl Melancon Jr., a professor of biological sciences at Nicholls State University who is assisting the state with the coastal restoration master plan revisions. "What I am glad to see is that finally things have moved to the point where there's the reality that some of this stuff is going to happen. ... I am seeing now, finally, more and more discussion in terms of 'Just how are we going to change the estuaries?' Now we're talking about 'Is there a way to have your cake and eat it too?' I'm of the opinion that if you're willing to manage things properly, you can."

The question is whether politics will get in the way.

Louisiana oyster industry struggles to cope with oil spill, coastal restoration efforts

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oyster Quote of the week

“If you don't love life you can't enjoy an oyster; there is a shock of freshness to it and intimations of the ages of man, some piercing intuition of the sea and all its weeds and breezes. [They] shiver you for a split second.”  - Eleanor Clark

An Oyster a Day

The benefits of eating oysters are well-known. For example, the National Heart and Lung Institute suggest oysters as an ideal food for inclusion in low-cholesterol diets. Oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1(thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C (ascorbic acid) and D (calciferol). Four or five medium size oysters supply the recommended daily allowance of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jindal Administration destroys oyster beds in hopes of saving them

As reported here, Governor Bobby Jindal's administration ordered the opening of massive valves on the Mississippi River, flooding some of the nation's most prolific oyster fisheries with fresh water, killing off up to 80% of the oysters ion some beds.

While oysters can withstand large variations in temperature, oxygen levels and even salinity, for short periods of time, they apparently can't tolerate the uniformed actions of a governor who has been quick to criticize every step taken by the federal government over the course of the past few months. Imagine if the Obama administration had ordered the valve openings, Jindal would be screaming bloody oysterocide.

Jindals other big plan to construct 128 miles of sand berms has been almost as successful as his oyster kill plan. What is it that makes this man-size wunderkind think that this is the time for rash decisions, rather than studied, measured actions? Oh yes, political opportunism. A little more leadership like this might just complete the total destruction of our coast and fisheries.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oyster Jubilee

Louisiana Oyster Jubilee 2010 will be held on March 27th, 2010
300 Block of Bourbon Street
Open to the Public

Get ready to enjoy Louisiana Oysters at the Fourth Annual Louisiana Oyster Jubilee. Join Louisiana's chefs, restaurateurs, oyster aficionados and others as they celebrate Louisiana's savory oysters.

2009 Participating Restaurants:

Acme Oyster House
Bourbon House
Café Beignet
Café Giovanni
Café Reconcile
Chad's Bistro
Desire Oyster Bar and Bistro
GW Fins
Hoshun Restaurant
House of Blues
Parkway Bakery and Tavern
Red Fish Grill
Zea's Restaurant

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oysters - the Tudor version of cinema popcorn

Isn't it great that we live in a place where oysters are still "common man" food, where a dozen on the half shell doesn't set you back, $20 ... shuck that, California!

Oysters - the Tudor version of cinema popcorn
LONDON (Reuters) - Elizabethan theater-goers chomped on an exotic array of foods while enjoying the latest plays of the day, new evidence found at the sites of Shakespearean playhouses in London suggests.

Archaeologists say choice Tudor snacks included oysters by the cartload, crab and other shellfish like mussels, whelks and periwinkles.

Dried raisins and figs, hazelnuts, plums, cherries and peaches were also consumed in great quantities, according to experts who excavated The Rose and The Globe theatres on the south bank of the River Thames.

Baked blackberry and elderberry pies and sturgeon, common in British waters at the time, were also popular with the masses who packed the playhouses.
New published research also suggests that the theater diet varied along social and class lines.
Commoners, referred to then as "groundlings or stinkards" who paid just a penny to stand in the yard or pit regularly chomped on oysters.

"Oysters were in fact the staple diet of the poor, right up to the Victorian period, and certainly we find oyster shells by the thousand on nearly every archaeological site we do," said senior Museum of London archaeologist Julian Bowsher who excavated the two theater sites.

The gentrified classes, who paid more to sit on cushions in the galleries, were more likely to have munched on crab and sturgeon, he said. Sturgeon may well have been slightly more expensive than other fish at the time.

"Underneath the gallery seating, we found fragments of crab which could also have been more costly," he told Reuters.

There is evidence the better-off could also afford to snack on imported foods like peaches and dried fruits.

Museum of London Archaeology has published the findings in a book of the excavations, which began in 1988, called: "The Rose and the Globe: Playhouses of Shakespeare's Bankside, Southwark."
Authored by Bowsher and fellow archaeologist Pat Miller, it contains decades of research on all aspects of the playhouses from superstructure to dress accessories of the classes who attended.
The Rose was originally built in 1587 as a 14-sided polygon where many of Christopher Marlowe's plays, including "Doctor Faustus" and "The Jew of Malta," were first performed.

The Globe, home to many of Shakespeare's plays, was first built in 1599 by the Bard's playing company, burned down in 1613, was rebuilt in 1614 and, like all other London theatres, was closed down by the Puritans in 1642.

A modern reconstruction was opened in 1997.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

State Reopens Louisiana Oyster Bed

Posted: Jan 19, 2010 6:28 PM Updated: Jan 19, 2010 6:29 PM
The following is a news release from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
BATON ROUGEThe Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals will reopen Area 29 to oyster harvesting at sunrise Wednesday, January 20, 2010.  DHH evaluations of Area 29, located in Lower Calcasieu Lake, have determined the molluscan shellfish growing waters there are suitable for harvest of oysters.
DHH closed Area 29 on January 14, 2010 as a precautionary measure.  It is believed that oysters harvested from these waters may have been responsible for a norovirus outbreak in North Carolina last month.
Today, State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry and DHH Secretary Alan Levine signed the order to reopen this oyster harvesting area. This action rescinds the precautionary closure order, allowing oystermen to resume operations in Area 29.
The DHH Office of Public Health continues its regular monitoring of conditions in Louisiana's shellfish growing areas to ensure the public's health.  The Louisiana Oyster Task Force, an organization made up of oyster industry and regulatory agencies, supports the reopening.  Water standards for oyster harvesting areas are set by the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference and can be found at  DHH has the authority to open and close these waters under LSA-R.S. 40:5,3.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit