Thus spake (according to legend at least)Longite NOLA Mayor Robert Maestri to FDR when the two were dining on oysters at Antoine’s. The quote varies-sometimes it ends with Mr. President or Chief-which is why I’m not 100% sure it’s true. But if it isn’t, it should be.
This post, however, isn’t about malaprops or politics, it’s about dem ersters.The Sunday Picayune ran a fine front pager by Brett Anderson on the ongoing problems faced by a family owned and operated oyster processing and distribution company in NOLA, P&J Oyster Co. The BP oil spill and the response to it continue to bite people in the ass. Here are the first few graphs:
In mid-September, Al Sunseri set two raw oysters on a table next to the coffeemaker in the offices of P&J Oyster Co. The specimens were not up to his standards, but P&J, which Sunseri runs with his brother Sal, was selling them anyway. The company had no other choice.
“You see?” Al said after feeding the oysters to a visitor. “They got a good oyster flavor. They just don’t have any salt. And they’re small.”
Al blames these deficiencies on the fresh Mississippi River water diverted to protect Louisiana’s delicate coastal marshlands from the oil that poured into the Gulf of Mexico from the ruptured Macondo well for most of the summer. Still, “they’re decent oysters,” he said. “People want to buy them.”
P&J has dealt in oysters for nearly 135 years, making it the oldest oyster processor and distributor in the United States. The disaster triggered by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion on April 20 brought that tradition to a virtual standstill. On June 10, the Sunseris, having conceded their regular suppliers could no longer provide them with the volume and quality of oysters necessary to operate their business, ceased regular operations at P&J. They laid off 13 full-time employees.
The whole piece is worth a read:Brett Anderson is the Picayune’s stellar food critic/reporter. He knows from good food. Anyway, shrimp and crab seem to be plentiful but we miss our salty and briny Louisiana oysters. You *can* find them but many restaurants are serving ersters from elsewhere because they have no choice. I guess we should all pray to Poseidon or Neptune to bring our oyster beds back.
I haven’t said this for awhile but here it goes: Fuck you, BP and the trail of despair you left in your wake. There, that felt good.