I grew up on the south shore of Long Island, digging barefoot for clams in Moriches Bay. We’d just scoot our feet back and forth, like doing the twist, until we hit something (sometimes it was a razor clam, which, while delicious, is responsible for some bottom-of-the-foot scarring that persists to this day), grab it, grab our knife, open it, and slurp that puppy right out of the shell. So I’m clearly not raw shellfish averse (and so very glad that I’m not allergic!).
But I’d never had an oyster until I went to college in Florida. My first experience was at a place called the Purple Porpoise across the street from campus. I did not care for them. They were warm water oysters, from Apalachicola Bay, in the Gulf of Mexico. I had no idea there were any other kind, so I didn’t have oysters again for a few years.
Then, my darling college roommate moved to Washington, D.C., and took me to a magical place, a place that had wood paneling, history, and oysters. For reals cold water oysters. It was a revelation. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. And on those days at work when I just wanted to run away, I would dream about moving north (and maybe west) and start my own little boutique oyster farm. I figure, what do you need? Water, some oyster seed, and waders, right?
You’ve seen those articles on Buzzfeed and other sites “I did X, so you don’t have to?” This book was that for me. Erin Murray quit her job in Boston and went to work on an oyster farm, so I didn’t have to. And I’m glad she did, because, damn. That’s way more work than I realized. Waaaay more work. I was fascinated with the whole process, and totally jealous of Murray’s ability to chuck (I didn’t want to say shuck) it all and make a living off the land (sea).
The story is mostly a memoir, a bit of New England travel and food porn, with recipes, plus a ton of information about oysters. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it (and looking forward to my trip to NY in a couple of weeks – I’m planning trips to at least two oyster bars when I’m up there)!