The Sublime Beauty of a Simple Oyster

How would you like to be an oyster? It might seem like a silly question but once you begin to give this notion some thought it becomes quite interesting.

For me oysters are simply sublime. However, my first encounter with my favorite mollusk didn’t go so well as I was only four-years-old. My father and I were in Mexico City at Bellinghausen, his favorite restaurant, and he thought it would be a good idea for his little girl to dive in and have her first oyster. He prepared it meticulously watched by all the waiters in white jackets (he’d known all of them for 30 years) and then proudly handed it to me. Well, the oyster did not end up where it should have, once in my mouth it became a projectile that was quickly picked by the fleet of men in white jackets who all patted me on the head and gave me an apple soda to make me feel better.

Now that you have indulged me with my oyster tale, let’s go back to pondering about being an oyster. Oysters are amazing creatures in many ways, the two that we know best are for our gastronomic consumption and the other for the miracle of pearls. This is where beauty comes in…just think how a misshapen, mostly smallish gooey animal can produce a coveted treasure just because it was attacked by a parasite. Voilá… a pearl. Oysters, when attacked, defend themselves by producing nacre, the substance that hardens and eventually over time creates a lovely orb. Nowadays natural pearls are a rarity and are highly prized bringing in millions for a simple strand.

Here are a few other amazing facts about oysters:

1. They’re some of the hardest working animals in the ocean. An adult oyster is capable of filtering 25-50 gallons of water a day!

2. They don’t just filter water– oyster reefs shelter fish and crabs, and with filtered water comes more seagrass, which is a feeding and breeding ground for other species that we love to eat – like rockfish and blue crabs.

3. Oysters take on the flavor of the water where they’re grown.