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A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in North America [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   298
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.66 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 16, 2008
Publisher   Bloomsbury USA
ISBN  159691548X  
EAN  9781596915480  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

 “A wide-ranging, thorough, breezily written guide to oysters as cuisine” (Boston Globe), A Geography of Oysters is the complete guide to understanding, serving, and savoring one of North America's most delicious foods—an Amazon Best of the Year 2007 selection.

In this passionate, playful, and indispensable guide, oyster aficionado Rowan Jacobsen takes readers on a delectable tour of the oysters of North America. Region by region, he describes each oyster's appearance, flavor, origin, and availability, as well as explaining how oysters grow, how to shuck them without losing a finger, how to pair them with wine (not to mention beer), and why they're one of the few farmed seafoods that are good for the earth as well as good for you. Packed with fabulous recipes, maps, and photos, plus lists of top oyster restaurants, producers, and festivals, A Geography of Oysters is both delightful reading and the guide that oyster lovers of all kinds have been waiting for.

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More About Rowan Jacobsen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rowan Jacobsen's first book on oysters, A Geography of Oysters, won the James Beard Award in 2007 and helped trigger the oyster mania we now find ourselves in. He is the author of Apples of Uncommon Character, Fruitless Fall, The Living Shore, and American Terroir. He has written for the New York Times, Harper's, Outside, Mother Jones, and others. He maintains the world's two leading web sources on oysters: Oysterguide (for his opinions) and Oysterater (for everybody else's). He lives in Vermont.

Rowan Jacobsen currently resides in the state of Vermont.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Love Oysters but a Little Perplexed by Them? The Answers Are Here.  Jun 18, 2008
"A Geography of Oysters" is the guide that I've been looking for. I love raw oysters, but they have a mind-boggling number of names and farming methods that I never could sort out. The people selling them are of limited help. I've read books about oysters, but they said little about particular species or origins. Now Rowan Jacobsen has made sense of it all in this practical guide to oyster eating in North America. Like European wines or single malt whiskies, oysters taste like the place they come from, so Jacobsen takes us all over North America to learn how and where 132 common oysters are farmed. Although there are some recipes in the back, "A Geography of Oysters" is primarily dedicated to raw oysters, so this is for those of us who like to slurp the slimy things out of their shells.

The guide has three parts. The first, "Mastering the Oyster", tells us about the 5 species of oyster that are cultivated in North America, explains the life cycle of an oyster, oyster harvesting, farming, and hatcheries, how different methods of cultivation affect texture, taste, and shelf life, how and why season and place affects taste, and how modern aquaculture has created an environmentally beneficial, diverse oyster industry. It's a solid introduction to oysters. The meat of the book is the second part, "The Oyster Appellations of North America". This is where we get an ostreaphilic tour of the continent. For each region, state, or province, Jacobsen provides a history of oysters in that region, followed by how, where, and other particulars for the major oysters in that area.

The final section, "Everything You Wanted to Know about Oysters but Were Afraid to Ask", gives advice on how to choose an oyster, storing oysters, shucking oysters, serving oysters, wines that go well with oysters and those that do not. Jacobsen prefers his oysters raw but offers 21 recipes -which will presumably be reserved for those unfortunate occasional bland oysters. There are several recipes for mignonette to top your oysters, oyster stew, and oysters roasted, baked, fried, pickled, and even drunk. That's followed by notes about safety, nutrition, and a helpful list of oyster bars, festivals, and growers that ship direct. As the man says, we don't eat oysters because we are hungry. We eat them to experience them. "A Geography of Oysters" will help you experience more oysters.
"Eating an oyster is like kissing the sea on the lips...  Mar 29, 2008
It is salty, sultry and seductive and it is always cause for a celebration."

Rowan Jacobsen knows his oysters, and this wonderful one-subject book can make you an expert too.

He focuses on taste. "Different oysters suit different occasions and different people. If you haven't yet been wowed by oysters, you may well have been dallying with the wrong ones." One of the most useful sections urges you to discover what kind of taster you are; Jacobsen then recommends the types of oysters you should try.

For example, I personally enjoy oysters with wine. "For the Wino: Those potent, briny, musky oysters are as overblown as an Australian Shiraz. You like to savor oysters with wine, so you want subtle mineral flavors, not metal and salt and mud.

"Kumamotos are Sauvignon Blanc's best friend; their clean melon flavors bring out its fruit. Westcott Bay Petites and Stellar Bays are both creamy and mild, not too salty, with no clashing bitterness. Eastern oysters are tougher matches for wine, but buttery Watch Hills have a full-bodied flavor that can be terrific with sharp, flinty wines, and Rappahannock Rivers bring out the minerals in some white wines. Beausoleils have a supreme lightness that is heaven with Champagne."

He makes specific suggestions for other types: the Shrinking Violet (or beginner), the Brine Hound, the Sweet Tooth, the Grail Seeker (or most adventurous), the Connoisseur, and six other types.

He describes many different types of oysters and where they are found. His list of 12 oysters you should know include: Beausolei, Belon or European Flat, Colville Bay, Glidden Point, Kumamoto, Moonstone, Nootka Sound, Olympia, Penn Cove Select, Rappahannock River, Skookum, and Totten Virginica. (These oysters and many more are described fully in his book and also on his website: Google " oysterguide " to find an extraordinarily rich source of oyster information.]

Jacobsen has sound arguments for observing the "R Rule" of eating oysters because oysters from warmer water do not taste as good and can be a health risk when not cooked. Those who resist the notion of eating a living creature should remember: "Left in their natural environment, most oysters would be eaten by something: why shouldn't it be you?"

Virtually all oysters are now farm raised. Jacobsen is eloquent on why oyster farms are ecologically friendly. "Oyster farms are thriving in Virginia, New York and New England. On these aquaculture operations, billions of oysters spend one to three years in metal cages that function as artificial reefs. They filter water. Their shells provide habitat for numerous species. Sport fishermen have learned that striped bass, shad and other species congregate around them.

"Aquaculture has a bad name. We picture fish farms with tons of feed being dumped into the water, creating the same algae-promoting conditions as pollution from cities and terrestrial farms. But the situation is reversed with oyster farms, because oysters are little filters. The farms provide far more water-cleaning benefits than all the government programs put together, don't cost taxpayers a cent, and support coastal economies. They also make better oysters: a farmed oyster is plumper, sweeter and prettier than its wild cousin." [From a piece on "The New York Times."]

Jacobsen provides excellent advice on shucking oysters. "The New York Times" recently alerted me to "a new protective glove knitted from a polyester fiber used for bulletproof vests. It provides a nice cushioning and a line of defense when gripping a craggy oyster and inserting a knife. It is made by Microplane Cut Resistant Glove, the company known for its graters, and is labeled as ''cut resistant.'' I liked it for opening clams, too."

For further reading (or not), Jacobsen discussed three books in an interview with "Seven Days". Oysters: A Culinary Celebration by Joan Reardon "is a cornucopia of the worst oyster dishes imaginable. Oyster mousse, oyster pancakes, oyster croque monsieur." Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher "is the classic". The Oysters of Locmariaquer by Eleanor Clark, "which won the National Book Award back in the '60s, is the best."

Jacobsen provides a couple of dozen recipes, much oyster lore, and an enormous amount of pleasure in these pages. You don't have to be a connoisseur to enjoy this excellent guide to oysters.

Robert C. Ross 2008
Fantastically thorough book about oysters  Dec 11, 2007
I love oysters. I don't know why, but I just do. Every now and then I get strong cravings and I just have to have them. I also have a lot of books about oysters because of it. "Consider the oyster" a great book, and others. But they are all mainly cook books with very little detail about the oyster, where it comes from and it's history.

This book is incredibly well written, witty at times and very informative. You can learn how oysters are farmed and their various techniques. Things I didn't even find on wiki. I learned how they get to harden those shells. I purchased some Carlsbad Blondes, and those shells would just snap in half. Terrible oysters. I know why because of the book.

I'm not sure how the author did it, but it seems he has had the incredible opportunity to sample a great many oysters. I can see his tax return $1000 spent as "research" for his book. What a great way to do research. Upon one of the authors great descriptions, I ordered three dozen Hama Hama's. They were fantastic.

The author picks five or six farms and gives incredible detail about the location, the owner/farmer and his/her history and the oysters themselves. This is a book to own now, because it is relavent now with the current oyster farmers listed. It is a chance to learn about the worlds best and to learn how to sample them.

The only thing I would have loved to see in the book, would be a travel guide on how to visit the various farms the author so nicely listed. That's one of the things I plan on doing is to travel up and down the coast visiting oysters farms along the way. I would have loved this book to have a guide like that.

There is a section on "what kind of oyster" person are you? But I didn't find that very useful or informative. A very minor drawback for an incredibly informative book on oysters. Every connosieur(sp?) should have a copy. A book for oyster lovers by an oyster lover.
Geograpy of Oysters  Sep 17, 2007
This book was one I bought as a potential reference book, however once i picked it up I just kept reading it. This is far from a dry review of oysters it is funny and insightful. My oyster vocabulary has blossomed.

Three friends have requested that I stop talking about oysters and buy them a copy for their birthdays.

It tells about the oysters and then how to get them delivered to your door for dinner. I love this book.
Slurp o licious  Sep 10, 2007
Jacobsen has turned the art of eating oysters to a higher level.

You can't wait to finish the book so you can start trying out his great recommendations. Whether you're an oyster novice, blindly feeling your way around the oysters beds, or, a seasoned connoisseur, this book is a must read. Great work Rowan!!

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