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A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in North America Paperback – September 16, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Jacobsen, managing editor of the magazine The Art of Eating, presents the ultimate macropedia for oysters, covering not just geography, but also philosophy, consumerism, epicurean splendor and the proper way to grow a pearl. The first of the guide's three sections, Mastering Oysters, covers such cocktail party talking points as A Dozen Oysters You Should Know and The Aphrodisiac Angle, and presents a primer on how and why oysters taste as they do. Chapter two accounts for half the book's page count and is a travelogue across the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, a movable feast up and down the east and west coasts of North America. Jacobsen ends his research with Everything You Wanted to Know About Oysters but Were Afraid to Ask. (The title exemplifies one of the very few times that his writing goes stale). Here he lists the best ways to ship, store and shuck, and explains why it is perfectly all right to eat oysters in months that do not have an r in them. He also serves up 20 or so recipes, including Coconut Oyster Stew with ginger and lemongrass and Baked Oysters in Tarragon Butter, simple to make but complex in flavor. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“The most remarkable single-subject book to come along in a while...Jacobsen covers oysters in exhaustive detail, but with writing so engaging and sprightly that reading about the briny darlings is almost as compulsive as eating them...this book will improve your oyster eating immeasurably...There may be no more pleasurable food than a raw oyster, there almost certainly is no better guide.” ―Los Angeles Times
“The ultimate macropedia for oysters.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Whether enjoyed on the half-shell raw -- alive, actually -- or fried, stewed, baked or pickled, the oyster has an appeal that is unique and perfectly captured by food writer Rowan Jacobsen.” ―Wall Street Journal
“Lively, lucid prose that should suck in even the most squeamish eaters.” ―BN.com
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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!!
"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