Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Lately I've been noticing more of these guys attached to some of my oysters (see photo above). They are oysters, but a different species: European oysters. The latin name is Ostrea edulis and are known as "flat oysters." They are native to western European coasts, particularly France where they are called "Huître plate" or simply "Plate." Other names include "Gravette" and "Pied de cheval" ("horse hoof") which is in reference to a particularly large European oyster.
So what are they doing attached to my American oysters (Crassostrea virginica)? They were introduced in Maine in the 1950s and by the 1980s they had established themselves as far south as Salem, Massachusetts. I don't know when the first sign of them arrived here in Duxbury. We find them, usually in the summer months, here in the bay and some of them are quite large. However this year a few of us are finding more of them, nickel-sized, attached to our virginica oysters.
So how do they taste? Hmmmn, well, the Europeans absolutely love these flat oysters. Most Americans don't like them at all. I've tried them a few times and although I didn't really like them at first, I can see how one can acquire a taste for them. They are similar yet different; the usual discriminatory attribute described by the general populace is a distinct metallic taste. But I've found them to have similar sweet and salty flavors that our virginica oysters possess. The metallic essence is sharp at first but then it dissolves over a few minutes and the other properties become more pronounced.
What else...well, they are pretty flat (even when large) and are easy to skim across a relatively calm sea toward unsuspecting friends working on nearby floats.
"Hey Graham, how about another Pied de cheval?"