Nobody knows. But we DO know they have digestive systems. Meg's oyster posts over at epicurious.com got me thinking about Penn Cove oysters and that company's sensible practice of storing harvested oysters in the water. "Some distributors often treat shellfish like fish, and this is the problem," Ian Jeffords, gm of the company, once explained to me. "When you take them out of the water and hold them in a cooler, they're still alive. You think about it, all the things that make shellfish taste good, fats and sugars, theyre living off those in the cooler, they're metabolizing those fats and sugars, so by the time you eat them everything that makes them taste good is gone."
What do those tasty fats and sugars become in that oyster you're slurping down? I'm not sure I want to know.
"How long have these oysters been out of the water?" is a good question to ask the chef who purchases them at your favorite raw bar.
You can buy Penn Cove oysters via company called farm 2 market.
3 thoughts on “Do oysters have souls?”
This might be a stupid question but is the same issue relevant for lobster? We were discussing a local market the other day that gives customers their live lobsters in paper bags, rather than in water.
pamela, i don’t think the same issue applies to lobsters. they aren’t canibalizing themselves from within. when I was profiling seafood purveyor and author, excellent author and stellar human, Ingrid Bengis, Ingrid told me that she wrapped her lobsters in newsprint which she came to believe gave them some sort of high. she is the sort to lovingly stroke and carry on conversations with her lobsters, and so feels that she knows them better than your average whole foods shopper, so i trust her on this issue. and i do know she seals up her lobsters in the fed ex box sans water with little ill effect judging from the consistant quality of lobster in restaurants throughout the country. So i would guess that a paper bag is fine.
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