There’s no ‘r’ in Maine, either
Tradition had it that oysters were to be consumed only in months with an ‘r’ in the name. Such was the quick, short life of the oyster out of its depth that there was no lingering in the heat of May, June, July or August. Oysters were for gentlemen and ladies with fancy forks and elegant serving plates. Limoges to Majolica, the platters the oysters lay on remained as attractive when the shells were empty as when they were full (and sometimes as pearlescent).
But here in Maine, oysters are the province of men and women in waterproof trousers with keenly-honed knives and skill. These are oystermen who can shuck, clear and drink fresh oysters in a motion. All on a boat riding the summer swell, necks shielded from the sun by the sort of cap you might see in a Winslow Homer painting.
Here on the Midcoast, far from the famed Oyster Bar of Grand Central, one tastes the briny liquor of the famed terroirs of Glidden Point and Damariscotta with a chaser of ocean breezes come from the Atlantic. Short of the oyster farm itself, one doesn’t get much closer than an order from Bogie’s or 88 of local oysters to sharing the elixir that calls the oystermen from their beds on a July morning.
Oystering has returned to Maine in recent years when the farmers realized that oysters’ legendary ability to clear waters of silt and worse were a symbiotic opportunity to restore the bays, tidal rivers and their livelihoods. Working against the demoralizing tides of declining fortunes in the fishing fleet, saving the oysters and saving the bays became a success story. And then the realization that oysters grown and harvested in different places had as much variation in flavor as wines brought new appreciation from those who loved them. Sit at an oyster bar in Maine and compare the brininess or bright fruit of Glidden Point from Edgecomb, Pemaquid and Damariscotta, working your way down the coast. Or join a river trip where pitching a hand in the harvest makes the authentic experience of oystering complete.
It takes three to four years in the icy waters of Maine for an oyster to grow from seed pearl to glistening bivalve on its bed of ice and salt. In that time, it has filtered about 54,000 gallons of water, absorbing nitrogen and turning cloudy to clear for the health of both bay and shore. That this magic happens here is but one of the ‘oceanside memories made in Maine’ that Spruce Point Inn invites you to share.
Once having appreciated that process, our world will be your sublime and clarifying oyster, too.