Longform

Wine Has Terroir; Oysters Have "Merroir," and We'll Pay More For It

"We had a vastly more sophisticated oyster culture 100 years ago than we do now," said Robb Walsh over a plate of six Gulf oysters yesterday afternoon. Walsh was speaking on a panel of winemakers on pairing white wines with oysters, but the lost history of Texas oysters was proving far more fascinating.

Much as grass-finished beef has a different flavor to it, so do oysters that are grown in one reef and moved to another to be "finished." It's a method that French oystermen have employed for ages, and one that Texas oystermen once did a century ago.

Those same Texas oystermen also knew which reefs, bays and estuaries were best for brinier oysters, fatter oysters or creamier oysters. At the turn of the last century, Walsh said, the Galveston Daily News was in the habit of publishing 3,000-word articles on the differences between Pepper Grove oysters and Resignation Reef oysters.

And you thought food-wanking was a recent phenomenon.

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Katharine Shilcutt