Thursday, August 4, 2011
Acme Oyster Bar
Different kinds of oysters taste different.
This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people think an oyster is an oyster is an oyster. Case in point: ocean oysters vs. Gulf of Mexico oysters vs. Chesapeake Bay oysters.
(Note: these taste differences are only really apparent when you're eating them raw. If you're not eating them raw, well, you might as well be eating fish sticks.)
Ocean oysters (and yes, there are differences between Pacific and Atlantic oysters) are dense, pale, meaty, and taste like the ocean. Ideally, anyway. Like a faintly sweet mouthful of ocean water. These are the best.
Chesapeake Bay oysters (what I grew up on) are smaller, browner, and not very briny at all. They taste more like a mouthful of seafood; sweeter than ocean oysters. (But "sweet" in an oyster way, not in a dessert way.)
So while in Louisiana, I decided to get some Gulf oysters at Acme Oyster Bar.
I was disappointed.
Now, I know it's not oyster season. (You're only supposed to eat oysters in months with an "R" in them, because during the summer they put all their energy into reproduction and not into tasting good.) But hey, these were fresh, right out of the Gulf that morning, so I gave them a shot.
They were brown. Not oyster-colored. Brown.
And they tasted like mud.
Not like the ocean. Or like seafood. Or even really like an oyster. Just like mud.
Fortunately I was able to eat a crawfish po' boy instead.
Anyway, I still highly recommend eating raw oysters. Just stick to ocean oysters, and preferably cold-water oceans at that. (Maine/Massachusetts/maritime Canada/Washington State produce the best and most delicious oysters.)
Acme Oyster Bar itself is a bit of a tourist trap, as evidenced by the huge line of tourists at the front door waiting for seats starting at 5 pm. Go in the off-hours, sit at the bar, drink some Abita beer, and watch the oyster shuckers first-hand. If the oysters look muddy, get the crawfish po' boy instead.