Alas, National Oyster Day is upon us, drooling and slurping ensues. As a born and bred Native American New Englander, I would like to share a personal oyster tale.
RELATED: Dale Carson's Ode to Oysters
Just barely into my teens I found oyster heaven in the oddest place: Grand Central Station. My dad worked for CBS News upstairs in the Graybar Building, which houses Grand Central Station. Below ground there are tiled tunnels that lead to various businesses. The walls are lined with framed advertisements featuring celebrities. So, dad took me to the Grand Central Oyster Bar, where we saddled up next to people he knew from work like Walter Chronkite, Douglas Edwards, Don Hewitt and some soap opera stars from the next floor down. I’m pretty sure dad brought Christopher Walken home once to Rhode Island, as he or one of his brothers was in a soap. Heady times and shellfish were so plentiful and affordable then! Fun facts: the Oyster Bar celebrated its centennial last April, and patrons typically down more than 4,000 oysters daily.
It's always a slurp fest at the Oyster Bar—but especially on August 5th for National Oyster Day. While the Oyster Bar goes to the nines to celebrate the bivalve on National Oyster Day, I should also note that New York City hosts its own oyster week annually, though this year it stretches for two weeks: September 12-28!
Today the famous Grand Central Oyster Bar, like so many oyster shacks and restaurants across the world, will feature many varieties of oysters. In the Northeast, we often enjoy the ones from Maine, Chesapeake Bay, Wellfleet on Cape Cod, and Long Island-grown beauties. I do love east coast oysters because they are smaller, sweeter and saltier than others. If you indulge often, you will develop a preference of your own.
With so many ways to serve and prepare oysters—raw on the half shell, smoked broiled fried, roasted, stewed and even pickled—they became a very popular bi-valve. Raw is our favorite way to have them but second is broiled with bacon bits, grated parmesan and a dash of Worcestershire. Right now, I will take them any way they come.
Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American Cooking, Native New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.