I grew up spending part of every summer in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, which included eating many oysters. After stumbling into an oyster shucking competition in Miami Beach in 2006, I’ve become a fan of the sport and have written about local, national, and international competitions for the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, American Way Magazine, and the Huffington Post.
Jim made friends today with Antonio, a guy who dives for oysters off Olas Altas beach in Mazatlan, Mexico.
You'd be forgiven if you can't distinguish between the oysters and rocks. These gnarly creatures look much like the rocks they grow on along the edge of the bay. Antonio uses the inner tube as a marker that floats on the surface--to let boats know he's down below--from which he hangs a net to hold the oysters. He then he dives to where the oysters are clustered using flippers and a snorkel. He carries a spike that weighs about 25 pounds, like a diver's weight, and uses it to pry the beasts off their undersea perches, The spike is tied to a string. When he has oysters in hand, he leaves the spike on the bottom, swims to the surface, and tosses the oysters in the net. When he's finished, he hangs on the inner tube and uses the string to lift the spike up from the bottom.
Antonio cleans and separates the oysters by whacking them with a hammer. He tells us there are tons of oysters out on the rocks beneath the water. He sells them to local restaurants. And he sold some to us. $4 for a dozen--though in a way that's a high price because at Playa Los Pintos, another beach slightly north of us, you can sit at a table and get a dozen shucked for $5. Obviously, though, the guy earned his four bucks!
Though it's not easy (for me) to imagine...these are Crassostrea gigas, Pacific oysters. We had some yesterday at the beach and they're crunchy, salty and had a minerally finish. Of course I'm not certain of the exact spot of yesterday's harvest. These may taste different. Will keep you posted once we crack them open!
The oysters are harder to open than most. These wild oysters are irregularly shaped with a lot of marine growth on the shells. The way the locals open one is to hammer the lip until it breaks enough to create a small hole to insert a knife. This makes it impossible to open the oyster cleanly without a ton of debris getting on the meat. On the beach, they wash them in salt water, adding an extra salty taste. Jim tried to avoid rinsing them, so we could taste the actual oyster. They are very firm and crunchy, and still salty and a little sweet. The surprise in this batch was the strong metallic finish, as strong as a Belon. If you're a fan of European Flats, as I am, you'll love these beasts. And look at the inside of the shells! Amazingly pearlescent.
It was a close race to be Numero Uno in the Wellfleet OysterFest 2018 Shuck off! Here's a video of the final tense moments as the results were announced. Congrats to all the shuckers! #1. William "Chopper" Young; #2. Steve Boreen #3. Calen Bricault See you all next year!
It's OysterFest time in Wellfleet! So thrilled to be one of the judges again this year for the thrill-a-minute shucking competition! Hopefully the rain will stop in time for all the additional fun activities, including the fine arts & craft fair, educational lectures and oyster grant walking tours, 5k road race, marine-themed spelling bee, family friendly activities and live music. Make sure you arrive hungry for oysters, more oysters, and also Wellfleet clams, chowder and other goodies such as fish tacos, clam cakes, jerk ribs, conch fritters, lobster rolls, Portuguese kale soup, grilled sausage, plus beer, coffee, muffins, cookies, brownies and other sweets, all offered by local restaurants. See the full schedule HERE: https://wellfleetspat.org/wellfleet-oysterfest-homepage/