Charles Walton IV / Food styling: Vanessa McNeil
- Southwest Fried Oysters
- Fried Buffalo Oysters
- Fried Buffalo Oyster Po'Boys
- Oyster Stew
- Scalloped Oysters
Southerners love the taste and lore of oysters. Whether we anoint them with heavy cream, treat them to a steamy, burlap-wrapped sauna, or bathe them in hot peanut oil, we treat oysters with reverence, displaying a nearly cultlike devotion.
Nonetheless, oysters are unlikely culinary icons. They're not exciting to catch, as fish are, nor do they beckon like a shapely crimson tomato. Once you have stabbed, pried, and muscled your way into an oyster's shell, you discover that eye appeal is not one of its qualities either. If there were no one around to tell you how terrific oysters taste, why would you bother?
Fortunately for oyster lovers everywhere, some hungry Neolithic-era soul did bother, and humans have been eating these briny bivalves ever since--nowhere more faithfully than in our region of the country.
Along the Southeast coast, oysters steamed over a blazing fire provide cause for celebration, perfuming chilly nights with their distinctive aroma. Restaurants in Apalachicola, Florida, one of the great oyster-producing bays, serve them fried and on the half shell, satisfying diners year-round. Mid-Atlantic residents favor fritters and oyster stew to chase away winter's chill, while New Orleanians, not surprisingly, enjoy them in a host of richly sauced preparations.