Mark Kurlansky’s crash sourse in New York history from the Lenape to Diamond Jim Brady as seen through the eyes of the oyster industry is entertaining, don’t get me wrong, but ultimately pointless. Unlike the other Kurlansky books I’ve read, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World and Salt: A World History, this one doesn’t really have a thesis. Unless “New Yorkers ate lots of oysters until there were no more oysters to eat” is enough for you.
The main fascinating thing I learned: When you eat a raw oyster (as I did last night, actually) you are eating a living creature. The salty (yummy) slime the oyster sits in is called “the liquour” by gourmands — it is actually blood. There is a tiny, beating heart inside an oyster as you suck it down.
Oyster-eating obviously demands a re-think on my part. Hard not to recall scenes from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds when eating raw oysters now.