In my mind, coastal Georgia and everything that comes along with it–like Lowcountry boil parties and oyster roasts–is next to Jesus. With my Holiday Cheese Ball in tow, I attended my first oyster roast in Savannah recently and ate my fill of the slippery, salty mollusks. The New Year’s Eve get-together was a fantastic way to say goodbye 2014 and hello 2015, while at the same time learning a thing or two about how the locals throw a sho’ ’nuff (sure enough) shindig.
Longtime Savannah food writer Martha Nesbit describes the scene at an oyster roast perfectly in her cookbook, Savannah Celebrations. “Singles or clusters are roasted over a sturdy piece of steel placed over a roaring fire. The oysters are covered with a burlap sack, which is hosed down; the oysters steam underneath. The oysters are ready when they pop open; the cooks have the responsibility of shoveling the oysters from the fire to the table, which is usually wooden, at least waist-high and unadorned.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!
The host and cook behind these bad boys was my friend Kyle Byrd. He grilled these oysters on the half shell with garlic butter, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, fresh herbs and hot sauce on the Big Green Egg. Some Kinda Good, what you talkin’ ’bout!
During the party, we also ate steamed oysters. My favorite way to eat them was with a dab of cocktail sauce on a Saltine cracker. Take a look at how Kyle and my good lookin’ date (two good ol’ Georgia boys) prepared them in this 15 second Instagram video:
And now, for seven pearls of wisdom I came across while researching oysters:
1. Nearly two billion pounds of these mollusks are eaten every year.
2. The saying “The World is Your Oyster” comes from Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor: “The world’s mine oyster. Which I with sword will open.”
3. Eating four to six oysters a day provides a complete daily supply of copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. Oysters are one of the most nutritionally well-balanced of foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and lipids. The National Heart and Lung Institute suggest oysters as an ideal food for inclusion in low-cholesterol diets and an excellent source of vitamins.
4. Norwegian Rune Naeri set the Guinness World Record for the most oysters eaten in 2003: He devoured 187 in three minutes.
5. The largest oysters can grow up to three feet long in shell length.
6. Depending on the location of their cultivation, there are significant differences in the flavor profiles in the oyster. East Coast oysters tend to be more briny while West Coast oysters tend to be sweeter.
7. Almost all oysters can secrete pearls, but not all are valuable. The pearl oysters come from a different family than edible oysters.
What fun facts would you add to my list?