Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw

Jeremy Sewall and Marion Lear Swaybill. Abbeville, $24.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-7892-1249-8
Swaybill, an Emmy Award–winning TV producer, and seafood chef Sewall join forces for this quick overview of their favorite bivalve. Chapter one contains a short history of oysters in America, an explanation of why different types have different flavors, and a look at shucking knives, which can range in price from $10 to $2000. The second chapter profiles several oyster farmers and the farms to which they are devoted. Then comes the main course: 100 pages of close-up photography. Dozens of opened oysters get the treatment, which consists of two large photos that focus on the swirls, ridges and gooey guts of the interior, as well as the beautiful and intricate patterns of the outer shell. Wildlife cinematographer Scott Snider shoots them all stunningly against a black background, giving them the eerie appearance of mollusks lost in space, or perhaps a lengthy Rorschach test suitable for SpongeBob SquarePants. A few sentences accompany each entry, providing information on how, where, and by whom the oyster was grown. Despite Sewall being a James Beard Award nominee, the only recipes are two simple mignonette sauces for those who feel the need; raw oysters are the order of the day. Instead, the final pages contain a brief education on oysters in art and history. Pliny the Elder, it turns out, wrote "effusively and at length" on the subject, and a catalog of artists, from Édouard Manet to Roy Lichtenstein, have immortalized them on canvas. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-7892-6075-8
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