ysters in New York City are enjoying quite a run, with enthusiasm equaling the love showered upon lobster rolls before them. It’s no coincidence that the dining scene’s bivalve boom comes at a time when Long Island oyster cultivation is experiencing a tremendous resurgence, perhaps not to historic levels -- it’s unlikely New Yorkers will ever again eat oysters at the rates consumed 100 years ago, though it wouldn’t be a terrible thing if they did -- but certainly enough to merit genuine excitement. To bathe your next happy hour seafood tower in the salty brine of knowledge, here’s a basic primer on Long Island oysters, covering history, types, and the current state of affairs.
Long Island’s fertile beds were already prized by Native Americans before the arrival of the first settlers, who immediately recognized their value -- and almost as immediately commenced to overharvesting. No matter what else they might have accomplished in life, Samuel Youngs, James Farley, and Amaziah Wheeler will be forever linked to one of Long Island’s first laws (circa 1784) regulating oystering, passed in response to the three non-residents making off with an overabundance of Oyster Bay’s namesake.