Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Readers liked them oysters just fine, thank you

Sunday's column on oyster restoration efforts in North Carolina's Pamlico Sound evidently sparked good memories of oyster-eating expeditions. Here are a few:

A professor of politics and public policy wrote:
Your column reminded me of one of my favorite political stories. Robert Maestri was mayor of New Orleans in the mid-30s, an ally of the Long family but not what you would call a charismatic leader. Franklin Roosevelt visited the city, and Maestri joined him for dinner at Antoine's in the French Quarter. Not exactly sure how to converse with the president, Maetri blurted out in his best New Orleans accent, "How ya like dem eyrsters?"

An expatriate of Eastern N.C. said:
My home is in Belhaven, but since the 40s I have been away for the most part. Over the past few years I have made visits there and have seen things I never did see when I was growing up and it makes me think water quality is improving. In a recent trip I saw many pelicans and I never saw a one there before. Dolphins have been coming up the Pungo with regularity, I'm told. I saw a group in the 60s or 70s. I don't think they would hang out in nasty water.
One thing may have been a contributor. In the 60s and before, the sound and river were dredged with large rigs for crabs. I went out a couple of times on a crab boat. Those nets literally dragged the bottom of everything present including logs, grass and worlds of small fish and stirred up a world of sand. I thought at the time this practice is destroying the fish nursery. In the interim period the dredging practice was stopped and I believe that has helped immensely. And I believe that accounts for the presence pelicans but I may be wrong on that. I figured if there wasn't food around they wouldn't be there. So maybe water quality is improving--I hope so.
When I was a youngun oysters were plentiful in Belhaven and my Daddy dearly loved to eat them raw with vinegar. I still have his oyster knife. Maybe before I check out it will be possible to eat a mess of Rose Bay oysters again

Another reader wrote:
Thanks for the piece on the above. Good steamed oysters, or even bad ones, are truly a Godsend.

Charlotte environmentalist and businessman Chatham Olive wrote:
Mummmm, that was a good one! Definitely my favorite food as well. And so encouraging to learn that there’s a serious effort at oyster restoration underway down east.

Re raws, since our son settled in Portland, OR we’ve moved Christmas to the Northwest. My favorite part is our annual trek over to Willapa Bay in Washington state to pick up our bushel. Willapa Bay bivalves are some of the best to be had. I generally go for raw. There’s no fear in that as the bay is very pristine. Folks round there have an almost religious calling to keep it that way. I am always on to the raws right there in the oyster house and again when we return to town. But most of our bushel find their way to the outdoor grill on Christmas Eve. We stand around in the garage drinking beer and wine as steam rises off the wet burlap under a light Portland rain. Mercy…

Support fast company. Eat Oysters.

Monica Allen of NOAA wrote:
I really enjoyed reading your Sunday article about the North Carolina
oyster restoration. This project is one of only 50 restoration
projects around the coast and Great Lakes region that the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chose from 814 applications for
funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. You did a
beautiful job telling the story of how oysters declined and are making
somewhat of a comeback through concerted restoration efforts. This is
exciting work and it's great to have someone with such passion and
grace writing about it for the Charlotte Observer readers.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Taxation is theft.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the Eastern NC expatriate is wrong. Water quality in the Pamlico has not improved, and the bioaccumulation of mercury in fish has continued unabated.

It's really good to see species like these oysters recovering, but every time something like this happens, people assume the entire environment around the species has recovered also, and concern drops off. When that happens, big polluters like Titan Cement can move in without causing much of a stir, and we continue to ruin our beautiful state.


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