des huîtres à Brooklyn et à Paris
by jemma margaret
Before the 13th of April, my oyster situation in Brooklyn or Paris was less than ideal.
As a preface, let me assure you that I know it was all very fixable and entirely my fault.
You see, in Brooklyn there are many delicious oysters available at certain hoity-toity establishments with pricey drinks, high taxes, and anticipated 20% tips. Should you try to shuck at home, good luck finding a distributor beating those happy hour $1 oyster prices.
Paris, on the other hand, has dozens of oyster varieties to choose from from any old poissonnier, some of which are quite affordable. To sit down automatically triples the price. The obvious solution to this problem is to buy an oyster knife, but the ones I have seen do not measure up to this beauty.
All of this magically changed last Saturday. First, we spotted $1 Sewansecotts at Union Market. I had looked at different branches of Union Market for oysters before, and turned up only Blue points. After a quick chat with the fishmonger we learned that both of the larger locations usually keep 3 or 4 varieties on hand!
While gloating about our new oyster source (almost as fun to say as huit huîtres), we came across the fish stand at the Saturday Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. There were quite a few oyster lessons to be learned. First, that wild oysters don’t really have varietal names. Second, that Blue point oysters could be harvested in Virginia, dumped off Long Island for a week or so, and then labelled as Blue point. Third, there is a wholesale fish market in the Navy Yard. Fourth, the whole “r” month thing is a myth. And finally, that if you talk to an oyster man for long enough at the end of a spring day he might cut you a good deal.
The next afternoon we pried into our bag of treats only to discover that the good deal implied several enormous unopenable (by non-professional standards) oysters full of grit and a few crawling things. Despite the many failed attempts, we averaged $1 per oyster. Not bad at all. As a very silver lining on the do-it-yourself disaster, Bobby loaned me his oyster knife for the next two months.
Expect a full report.