Want oysters this season? Ways to Host and Attend the Lowcountry Hobby
Have you ever sipped half a dozen oysters on a platter of shellfish at a gourmet restaurant? Delicious, right? There’s also something about the experience – it’s just one of life’s great pleasures. However, it’s one that doesn’t have to be fancy or break the budget every time. A good roast of oysters, a staple of the Lowcountry winter season, will often eliminate that itch.
The concept itself is not new. Archeology teaches that Roman emperors like Julius Caesar, Caligula and Nero feasted on the tasty bivalves. For most of Western history, rich and poor alike savored oysters. When the first settlers arrived in the New World, they discovered that the natives were also oyster lovers. In the Lowcountry, oysters were plentiful, and outdoor roasts were soon common. Some historians date the true tradition of roasts held here to the early 1800s.
Now, as it was then, the most appealing attributes of these roasts are that, for a small fee, one can suck in as many oysters as one’s stomach can handle. All this while enjoying the camaraderie of other enthusiastic participants.
Host your own roast
In these regions, it is not difficult to launch an oyster roast yourself. You will need a large sheet of steel, a sturdy plywood sheet with a hole cut in the middle to lay the shells in, some trestles, a fire, damp towels and a shovel to move the shells around. steamed oysters on your makeshift meal. the tables.
If you’re considering hosting your own roast, consider contacting companies that do it professionally, like the pros at Mount Pleasant Seafood. According to company owner Sarah Fitch, her family has been serving the region’s seafood needs for 75 years and has prepared roasts for birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, religious events, corporate events and birthday parties.
“We also run a lot of backyard events,” Fitch said. “From October to early March, we do four or five roasts every weekend! Even if you don’t like oysters, it’s a great opportunity to gather around the table, warm your hands and enjoy socializing with friends.
Attend a roast
However, hosting isn’t for everyone, and if that describes you, you can still enjoy the season as a participant. From around late October to early March, there are a multitude of well-organized roasts throughout the Lowcountry. Most include a significant charitable component to ease the conscience of even the most voracious oyster eaters. We’ve collected a few of them here.
One example is the Charleston Animal Society’s Chili Cook-off and Oyster Roast at Riverfront Park in North Charleston, traditionally held every November. His product helps save the lives of countless shelter animals.
As the season progresses, Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina hosts a monthly series called “Oysters on the Point.” Great food and fun along with an unbeatable backdrop are some of the highlights of this party.
Then there’s the big kahuna of all roasts, the Lowcountry Oyster Festival at Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens, which also raises money for area charities. Some 800,000 oysters are eaten at the world’s biggest oyster festival, scheduled for January.
Jonathan Kish, president of the Charleston Restaurant Foundation, which hosts the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, said, “I’m thinking in terms of pounds and bushels, because oyster clusters in particular are hard to count.”
Kish estimated that the 8,000 diners who attend each year consume about 42,000 pounds of oysters. This weight includes the shells, which are recycled in concert with the efforts of the Coastal Conservation League to clean up our waterways and provide a sustainable environment for oysters to thrive.
Although the festival welcomed up to 13,000 fans, attendance is now capped at 8,000, still sold out. Kish thinks numbers are the limit to ensure everyone has plenty of space and a good time.
It’s the first oyster season in South Carolina right now. Whichever path you choose, join the fun. Get out your oyster knife and work gloves and dive in.
By Bill Farley