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As temperatures fall, it’s the perfect time to reach for those beautiful jewels of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast: oysters. Broiled, baked, fried, or raw—there’s no shortage of ways to prepare these fresh, briny delicacies.
French settlers in Louisiana began cultivating oysters as early as 1840, and the underwater delicacy has played a large role in the development of the state ever since.
Over the years, Louisianans have discovered a variety of uses for oysters, more efficient ways to harvest oysters, and even methods to gather seed oysters and plant them in more favorable environments.
Today, the oyster has grown from a humble seafood delight to a major player in the Louisiana culinary scene. Nearly every parish in the state hosts their own oyster festival, and Louisiana controls roughly one-third of the entire oyster industry in the United States.
The Louisiana Oyster Trail in Jefferson Parish began in 2012 and currently consists of 20 participating restaurants and businesses that serve Louisiana oysters. Whether on a pizza, in a soup, or raw on the half shell, oyster options are almost limitless on the trail. And, each of the participating restaurants has a 3-foot-tall oyster sculpture that is hand-painted by a local artist.
Pearls of Wisdom
• Oyster harvest numbers are at about 12 million pounds of shucked oysters annually, and Louisiana is the country’s number one producer.
• Oysters have always been linked with love. When Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sprang forth from the sea on an oyster shell and promptly gave birth to Eros, the word “aphrodisiac” was born.
• An oyster produces a pearl when foreign material becomes trapped inside the shell. The oyster responds to the irritation by producing a combination of calcium and protein. This combination is known as nacre, which coats the foreign material and, over time, produces a pearl.
Other Louisiana Trails
For more information, visit LouisianaTravel.com.