Want to get some serious bang for your buck? Then head over to Joe’s, where you can eat your fill of raw oysters for just a dollar a pop.
Believe it or not, people have been enjoying these bivalves for thousands of years. Archaeologists have unearthed oyster shells at several prehistoric sites — proof that our early ancestors were as much about chowing down on seafood as we are. And oysters were so popular in ancient Rome that merchant Sergius Orata created a hydraulic system to promote the cultivation of oysters.
But it was the wild oyster that really took off in the United States. During the 19th century, New York Harbor produced enough delicious mollusks to make it the world’s largest oyster source. What’s more, the Harbor’s plentiful oyster beds were instrumental to the rapid growth of New York’s restaurant industry.
Because oysters are so easy to harvest, they were, for many years, relatively inexpensive. For a time, oysters were even considered a working-class food. Unfortunately, overharvesting led to a decline in the oyster population. In an effort to revitalize their numbers, aquaculturists introduced foreign species to North America. But these oysters brought diseases with them that decimated the original oyster beds. This new scarcity prompted a spike in price, and the once-humble oyster became a delicacy.
There’s no better time to experience this delicacy than right now. There’s an old saying that oysters taste best during months with an R. And there’s some science to support that. Oysters spawn during the warm months, which makes their flavor milder and texture more watery. The colder the weather, the better the oyster.
Another factor affecting flavor — which might be salty, briny, buttery, metallic or even fruity — is region. Because oysters serve as water filters for their ecosystems, the salt and nutrients available in the water determine how they taste.
Oysters can be cooked, but purists (us included) prefer them raw with a little squeeze of lemon juice. Other popular toppings include butter and salt, shallot vinegar and cocktail sauce.
Which is best? At this price, you can afford to test them all out and decide for yourself. But you’ll want to hurry. This deal lasts only through Jan. 2.