I think it was Mark Twain who said, “It was a brave man, the first one to taste an oyster.” That must have been millions of years ago!
Oysters grow just about anywhere where there is the sea. Preferably at the water’s edge and somewhere, they can anchor themselves.
The history of the oyster goes back to the origins of time. In recent times there has been an explosion of farms growing various species, but this farming habit is not new. Archaeologists have discovered remains of oyster farming by man in Australia going back 6,000 years!
Although oysters are or can be very different in taste, according to local conditions, species, etc, the dominant species used in farming is Crassostrea gigas or Pacific Oyster. This species is the one which is called in Australia, Coffin Bay, in France, Fin de Claire, and Giradeau.
Irish oysters are the same species.
The reason for this is as is found in cattle. Farmers go to breeds such as Angus and Hereford as they produce the best return in terms of growth rate, taste, etc. It is the same in oyster farming.
Another similarity with cattle breeding is that an oyster’s taste is very much influenced by what it eats. In this case, it is the combination of the temperature of the water, the composition and purity of the water, the hours of daylight, and many other factors.
Sydney Rock Oysters famous throughout the world (Saccostrea glomerata) are confined to a 1,400 kilometer stretch of shoreline to the North and South of Sydney. They are slower growing than Pacific oysters, taking about 2-3 years to reach a commercial size, as compared with Pacific which reach that state in 1-2 years.
I have tasted oysters all over the world and the difference is quite dramatic. From the New Zealand Bluff oysters, with their very large size and strong taste to native oysters in California where the taste is markedly different from one bay to the adjoining one: to native small oysters in Alaska; to Fin De Claire in France; to magnificent oysters’ form Galway and Carlingford in Ireland; to those of the Costa Blanca in Spain; to those here from Surat Thani.
The wonderful thing is that they are all different, determined by where they live, the conditions of where they live, the salinity of the water, the level and type of nutrient in that water as being some of them.
Carlingford oysters from Carlingford Lough, are indeed some of the very finest oysters I have ever tasted. They are Crassostrea Gigas, Pacific Oyster, and because they are not in their natural habitat, the warm Pacific they are fooled into thinking it is winter all the time in the relatively cool waters of the Irish Sea. The lough is a large expanse of water stretching 50 kilometers inland and it collects the nutrient runoff from the farms and wooded hillsides of The Mountains of Morne on both sides. This nutrient combines with the saltwater tides, which rush in and out via a very narrow channel where the oyster beds are, provide superb food for their growth.
The tide from high to low has a drop of 5 meters so twice a day the oysters are given a fresh quantity of water to filter by Mother Nature. It has been calculated that each oyster processes 55 litres every twenty-four hours! Quite an amazing effort for a tiny mollusk weighing on average less than 100 grams. They open their shells once underwater and close them for protection once the tide has gone out.
The oyster farmer is constantly grading each sack or pouch in which they live and removing excess shell growth until they are ready for harvest. Once this is done, they are purged in tanks for forty-eight hours to remove any foodstuffs in their guts, before packing and despatch.
The result, Dear Reader, is three years of careful farming is ready for you at the end of a call.
Enjoy the finest Oysters in The World…. Carlingford from Ireland, right here at Bangkok Bob’s.