In South Louisiana, fresh seafood is a source of pride and joy for the locals. Although not as proliferate as it was years ago, the South Louisiana seafood industry is alive and still harvesting fat blue crabs, large juicy shrimp, succulent crawfish and most importantly, plump salty oysters. This time of year is actually the height of oyster season, although they are available year-round.
The prime time of the year for raw oysters is from the first Wednesday following Labor Day through April 30th. The weather is cooler thus decreasing any health risks. Some risks can be associated with the most vulnerable of the population (sick, elderly, and the very young), but healthy adults should be fine when consuming raw shellfish. As always, be sure to source raw oysters only from reputable vendors and restaurants. Quality counts, especially with shellfish. Thankfully, cooked oysters are available and safe year-round.
For those who love to indulge in raw oysters, nothing is better than being served a huge platter of the gems, sitting on atop a bed of chipped ice neatly adorned with lemon wedges, crispy saltines and spicy cocktail sauce. Purists claim no accompaniments are needed. Others throw a quick shot of Tabasco hot sauce on the oyster and slurp it down. It's clear there's really no wrong way to eat raw oysters. The most important thing is that they're eaten and enjoyed.
Several of our favorite restaurants are well-known for serving plump delicious oysters on the half-shell. Stop by soon while the season is at peak:
On a parting note, we'd be remiss not to mention a recent threat to the oyster industry. While the oyster industry is a viable one here in South Louisiana, sadly the 2010 BP oil spill was most threatening to this delicate bivalve. Contamination in beds killed many young spawns, and recovery takes at least two years to start making a noticeable difference.
Today, many oyster beds are back in business, and many more will start producing at pre-spill levels in the coming years. The industry remains hopeful for a meaningful recovery, one bed at a time.
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