41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2007
I love oysters. I don't know why, but I just do. Every now and then I get strong cravings and I just have to have them. I also have a lot of books about oysters because of it. "Consider the oyster" a great book, and others. But they are all mainly cook books with very little detail about the oyster, where it comes from and it's history.
This book is incredibly well written, witty at times and very informative. You can learn how oysters are farmed and their various techniques. Things I didn't even find on wiki. I learned how they get to harden those shells. I purchased some Carlsbad Blondes, and those shells would just snap in half. Terrible oysters. I know why because of the book.
I'm not sure how the author did it, but it seems he has had the incredible opportunity to sample a great many oysters. I can see his tax return $1000 spent as "research" for his book. What a great way to do research. Upon one of the authors great descriptions, I ordered three dozen Hama Hama's. They were fantastic.
The author picks five or six farms and gives incredible detail about the location, the owner/farmer and his/her history and the oysters themselves. This is a book to own now, because it is relavent now with the current oyster farmers listed. It is a chance to learn about the worlds best and to learn how to sample them.
The only thing I would have loved to see in the book, would be a travel guide on how to visit the various farms the author so nicely listed. That's one of the things I plan on doing is to travel up and down the coast visiting oysters farms along the way. I would have loved this book to have a guide like that.
There is a section on "what kind of oyster" person are you? But I didn't find that very useful or informative. A very minor drawback for an incredibly informative book on oysters. Every connosieur(sp?) should have a copy. A book for oyster lovers by an oyster lover.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2007
This book was one I bought as a potential reference book, however once i picked it up I just kept reading it. This is far from a dry review of oysters it is funny and insightful. My oyster vocabulary has blossomed.
Three friends have requested that I stop talking about oysters and buy them a copy for their birthdays.
It tells about the oysters and then how to get them delivered to your door for dinner. I love this book.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
"A Geography of Oysters" is the guide that I've been looking for. I love raw oysters, but they have a mind-boggling number of names and farming methods that I never could sort out. The people selling them are of limited help. I've read books about oysters, but they said little about particular species or origins. Now Rowan Jacobsen has made sense of it all in this practical guide to oyster eating in North America. Like European wines or single malt whiskies, oysters taste like the place they come from, so Jacobsen takes us all over North America to learn how and where 132 common oysters are farmed. Although there are some recipes in the back, "A Geography of Oysters" is primarily dedicated to raw oysters, so this is for those of us who like to slurp the slimy things out of their shells.
The guide has three parts. The first, "Mastering the Oyster", tells us about the 5 species of oyster that are cultivated in North America, explains the life cycle of an oyster, oyster harvesting, farming, and hatcheries, how different methods of cultivation affect texture, taste, and shelf life, how and why season and place affects taste, and how modern aquaculture has created an environmentally beneficial, diverse oyster industry. It's a solid introduction to oysters. The meat of the book is the second part, "The Oyster Appellations of North America". This is where we get an ostreaphilic tour of the continent. For each region, state, or province, Jacobsen provides a history of oysters in that region, followed by how, where, and other particulars for the major oysters in that area.
The final section, "Everything You Wanted to Know about Oysters but Were Afraid to Ask", gives advice on how to choose an oyster, storing oysters, shucking oysters, serving oysters, wines that go well with oysters and those that do not. Jacobsen prefers his oysters raw but offers 21 recipes -which will presumably be reserved for those unfortunate occasional bland oysters. There are several recipes for mignonette to top your oysters, oyster stew, and oysters roasted, baked, fried, pickled, and even drunk. That's followed by notes about safety, nutrition, and a helpful list of oyster bars, festivals, and growers that ship direct. As the man says, we don't eat oysters because we are hungry. We eat them to experience them. "A Geography of Oysters" will help you experience more oysters.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2007
Jacobsen has turned the art of eating oysters to a higher level.
You can't wait to finish the book so you can start trying out his great recommendations. Whether you're an oyster novice, blindly feeling your way around the oysters beds, or, a seasoned connoisseur, this book is a must read. Great work Rowan!!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2009
Rowan Jacobsen writes about oysters in beautifully descriptive language, with offbeat humor thrown in. I've recommended this book even to those who won't eat a raw oyster, but love great writing and have a curious mind. If you are an oyster aficionado, then you simply must read this book! But, be warned, you'll then be on a mission to try as many of them as possible, immediately.
"At some level, it isn't about taste or smell at all. Because an oyster, like a lover, first captures you by bewitching your mind." -Rowan Jacobsen
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Growing up on an island in Washington State and visiting relatives on Hoods Canal who had oysters outside their front door, I grew up loving oysters raw, in stew, bread and pan fried, and in casseroles.
So when I discovered this gem of a book I was overjoyed. Anyone who loves oysters or simply food history should love this book as well. Cannot recommend it enough.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2009
I love this book. I bought three for friends. I had no idea there were so many different speices of oysters. And so close to home, many of them. The book explains the tastes and textures to expect. The history of each from State to State. How they are harvested, recipes, and locations where to eat the best. If you enjoy oysters, you will really like this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2013
A Geography of Oysters: the connoisseur's guide to oyster eating in North America
To the aficionado, oysters provide a combination of subtle sensory ecstasy and spiritual experience. We are always looking for the perfect oyster and each oyster has its unique attributes. Opening an oyster is like opening a present at Christmas, holding the surprise of delight or of disappointment. When travelling around North America we always seek out and head for the Oyster bar in each new city.
In this entertaining volume Jacobsen provides the most complete book I have seen on everything you might want to know about oysters, and then some. As the title suggests the writing is sort of oyster lover's travelogue. He wanders all along the East Coast, starting from Atlantic Canada, down the United States eastern seabord across the Gulf and up the Pacific, even as far north as Alaska. He describes each hidden cove and bay where oysters may be found and the unique features of the shellfish harvested there. In addition the book contains a catalogue of where the best restaurants and oyster bars are to be found and the addresses of oyster shippers. For those who prefer home entertaining there are a variety of recipes and suitable wines to complement the particular type of oyster. However I am sure that most real oyster lovers prefer the "naked" oyster whose delicate bouquet will not be disguised or over-powered by adulterating spices. He even gives directions how to safely shuck oysters and the equipment needed.
I would give this book five stars and cannot imagine a more encyclopedic or accurate presentation of the subject. Oyster lovers everywhere will find this book a real delight.
Robert F Nelson
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2009
My husband & I are fascinated with experiencing the pleasures of eating oysters. We were seeking a book to give us basic knowledge. This book is what we were looking for & more. This book is packed with very useful information. We plan to test our knowledge, as we set out to visit oyster farms & oyster fests, noted in the book.
on August 10, 2012
I've purchased numerous books for Kindle but none have given me more return on my investment than "A Geography of Oysters." Before reading Rowan Jacobsen's book I was an oyster fan who craved oyster knowledge. I knew that I enjoyed eating Hog Island Sweetwaters at the San Francisco Ferry Building but didn't know a thing about them. Then, when travelling, I tried a Belon Oyster from France and my curiosity was piqued....how could two oysters look and taste so remarkably different? I loved them both but craved oyster knowledge (just like I had read up on my wines...were the sweetwaters/Belons akin to the New World/Old World wines comparisons? ). Rowan Jacobsen's book is written for the enjoyment of the reader and it provides insights and delightful stories about the world of oysters. It's a non-fiction book but captures your imagination like a novel would do - you feel like you are face-to-face with straight shooter Barb Scully in Maine as she farms first-class oysters from the Damariscotta River. You come away from this book an oyster expert; reading it has added to my appreciation for eating oysters. I now order them with gusto! If I could make one suggestion, the book does not cover oysters in France in any detail...I think a section on Europe would have been a great. Other than that, it's a delightful and thoroughly enjoyable read. Five stars.