For an oyster lover like me, the event put together by the Harvard Natural History Museum was a real treat. It started with a screening of Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves - a film by Emily Driscoll which talks about oyster reef restoration efforts in New York Harbor.
I hadn’t realized, before watching this film, that the history of New York City could be so intimately tied to the history of oysters in the harbor. From the earliest settlers to the some of the first free blacks, they oyster industry was an undercurrent through it all. Of particular interest in the film was the work for the New York Harbor School, a public school in New York City whose whole curriculum focuses on “water job skills and environmental stewardship by utilizing New York City’s waterways”.
Following the film there was tasting and shucking session with Island Creek Oysters. They brought in a couple different oysters to demonstrate the different tastes. In an early Q&A session with the film maker, the audience was encouraged to think of oysters as grapes and wine. Basically all the same, it matters most where you grow them in regards to their taste. The oystermen told us much the same thing, saying the oysters tasted like the waters of the area they grow in – so much so, that just by swimming in those waters you would be reminded of the oysters.
They also spoke of the phases of taste of an oyster, from the initial brine taste to the sweeter tastes that come next. Rest assured I will be visiting their Kendall Square location ASAP to eat more of their Island Creek Oysters, which were delicious.