New Orleans has a singular obsession with oysters. This episode of How We Eat explores the complex history of this beloved bivalve in Louisiana, and the three elements that make the perfect oyster experience: The oyster itself, the oyster shucker, and the preparation.
Ask anyone in New Orleans, and they’ll say Gulf oysters are the absolute best. The area where the Mississippi River hits the Gulf of Mexico is known locally as “god’s pond,” because its fishing circumstances are so ideal. In Louisiana, the oyster shucker acts as the ambassador to these local treasures. The shuckers aren’t just preparing the meal, they know what’s fresh, and they’re happy to tell to customer what makes the oysters so special.
Oysters are pervasive in the Gulf region, and have inspired many unique dishes. New Orlean’s own signature preparation is Oyster’s Rockefeller, which was developed at the local institution Antoine's: When a snail shortage in France left the head chef without a key ingredient, he swapped in oysters — and history was born.
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