A Geography of Oysters


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About the Author

Rowan Jacobsen is the managing editor of The Art of Eating and a frequent contributor to the magazine, for which he has written on subjects including wasabi, umami, lobsters, and mead. He is also the author of Chocolate Unwrapped. He grew up eating oysters in the steamy backwaters of rural Florida and now lives in the hills of Vermont with his wife and son.


The best books about food are often equal parts personal memoir, historical narrative, cultural anthropology, travel diary, and natural history. Jacobsen's (Chocolate Unwrapped: The Surprising Health Benefits of America's Favorite Passion) handbook on North American oysters encompasses all of these. He discusses where oysters come from, how they grow, and how they're named (a confusing topic he helps unravel); he also shows how to shuck and prepare oysters, as well as choose a drink to complement them. Jacobsen offers recipes, restaurant reviews, information about festivals, and a listing of oyster farmers who will ship to you. This book has a hands-on, sensuously engaged quality: the author has met and learned the techniques of oyster growers; traveled to the bays and inlets where oysters grow; studied their ecology; and shucked, prepared, and eaten many. Recommended for libraries purchasing books on food, cooking, and the natural environment.-Michael Dashkin, QUALCOMM, San Diego Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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 2007 Reed Business Information.

"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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