Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm

Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm

4.8 5
by Erin Byers Murray
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Bill Buford's Heat meets Phoebe Damrosch's Service Included in this unique blend of personal narrative, food miscellany, and history

In March of 2009, Erin Byers Murray ditched her pampered city girl lifestyle and convinced the rowdy and mostly male crew at Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Massachusetts

See more details below

Overview

Bill Buford's Heat meets Phoebe Damrosch's Service Included in this unique blend of personal narrative, food miscellany, and history

In March of 2009, Erin Byers Murray ditched her pampered city girl lifestyle and convinced the rowdy and mostly male crew at Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Massachusetts, to let a completely unprepared, aquaculture-illiterate food and lifestyle writer work for them for 12 months to learn the business of oysters. SHUCKED is part love letter, part memoir and part documentary about the world's most beloved bivalves. An in-depth look at the work that goes into getting oysters from farm to table, SHUCKED shows Erin's full-circle journey through the modern day oyster farming process and tells a dynamic story about the people who grow our food, and the cutting-edge community of weathered New England oyster farmers who are defying convention and looking ahead. The narrative also interweaves Erin's personal story--the tale of how a technology-obsessed workaholic learns to slow life down a little bit and starts to enjoy getting her hands dirty (and cold). This is a book for oyster lovers everywhere, but also a great read for locavores and foodies in general.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“While most books about oysters tell people what they want to hear, Shucked tells it like it is: the frigid winter days on the water with hands like popsicles, the backbreaking work, the anxiety of nurturing thousands of dollars’ worth of oyster seed, the hard-partying nights. Erin Byers Murray captures the seasonal rhythms of the New England coast and the romance of one exceptional company’s efforts to coax great food from the sea. You’ll never take an oyster for granted again.” –Rowan Jacobsen, author of A Geography of Oysters

“Part adventure, part memoir, part culinary awakening, Erin Byers Murray's rite of passage from novice to connoisseur takes us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the world of the oyster. On the way, she gives us pearls of wisdom and wit—both served up on the half shell. Cocktail sauce is optional but don't miss this book.”— Christopher White, author of Skipjack: The Story of America's Last Sailing Oystermen

"Part of the book’s charm is following Murray through the process of becoming aware of her surroundings in working directly with an edible product. Readers who enjoy Linda Greenlaw’s writing...will appreciate Murray’s offering of just enough information to allow them to become knowledgeable in all things oyster without overdoing it. ...Murray’s portrayal of her personal response to life’s changes and challenges will hold readers’ interest. An entertaining and informative firsthand experience of the locavore movement." —Library Journal

"Murray’s own love of food and food writing informs the narrative, and she skillfully dramatizes the scenes of summertime sowing and depicts her many colorful co-workers. Murray eschews poetic waxing on her subject and focuses closely on the action and the hard, hard work of farming, closing each chapter with a broad range of oyster recipes." —Publishers Weekly

"...a new understanding of locavorism and an appreciation for tradition." --The Sacramento Bee

 

Publishers Weekly
Boston-area food blogger Murray writes about a year working on a Cape Cod oyster farm—a demanding work cycle, with backbreaking duties. Often under spirit-crushing conditions, she was rapidly schooled in the tasks and tools of her crew position, quickly adjusting and becoming skilled at the work. Murray’s own love of food and food writing informs the narrative, and she skillfully dramatizes the scenes of summertime sowing and depicts her many colorful co-workers. She eventually moves into the company offices as the farm expands its sustainable, beneficial practices in the restaurant industry and wider global village. She even does a day’s work in the kitchens of Thomas Keller’s Per Se and later reaps the immediate culinary benefits of the very oysters that she and her colleagues had laboriously harvested. Murray eschews poetic waxing on her subject and focuses closely on the action and the hard, hard work of farming, closing each chapter with a broad range of oyster recipes. (Nov.)
Library Journal
A journalist by trade, Murray makes the surprising decision to enter the unfamiliar territory of an oyster farm in Duxbury, MA. Island Creek encompasses 50 acres of seawater and "grows" oysters from seeds to maturity. Part of what Murray hopes to discover is a sense of place, or merroir, in oyster parlance. You don't have to like oysters to appreciate her underlying message: slow down and enjoy life. There's much to notice, much to experience. Part of the book's charm is following Murray through the process of becoming aware of her surroundings in working directly with an edible product. Readers who enjoy Linda Greenlaw's writing (e.g., The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island) will appreciate Murray's offering of just enough information to allow them to become knowledgeable in all things oyster without overdoing it. Oyster recipes follow each chapter. VERDICT Though the book contains a lot of detail on the mechanics and process of farming oysters, Murray's portrayal of her personal response to life's changes and challenges will hold readers' interest. An entertaining and informative firsthand experience of the locavore movement.—Elizabeth Rogers, CEF Lib. Syst., Plattsburgh, NY
Kirkus Reviews

The toils and pleasures of oystering.

Like many of her predecessors in the food-based memoir genre, Murray begins in formulaic fashion. An avowed food-lover, the author grew dissatisfied with her life as an editor for a popular Boston lifestyle magazine.She felt lost and craved a fuller connection to the things she loves.When she met one of the directors of Island Creek Oysters, she discovered an opportunity to commit to something more substantial and convinced the company to hire her as an oyster farmer for one year.Knowing nothing about oystering, Murray was schooled early and often—and her prose, frequently humorous and nicely descriptive, does a good job of getting at the grueling experience of this particular niche food industry.Unfortunately, as with so many of the authors within this genre, Murray cannot escape the indictment of privileged self-involvement.When her one-year tenure was over, the author returned to her cushy life, wiser for her blue-collar experience but oblivious to the inevitable differences—despite her avowed solidarity—that will always separate her voluntary incursion from the toil of those who must oyster for their livelihood.

An average foodie memoir.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250032003
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
274,830
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >