Just in case your only familiarity with eating oysters comes from watching that scene in Dick Tracy where Madonna gets grossed out by Lips Manlis, we asked Erin Murray, the author of Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm (which goes on sale today!!) to offer up a cheat sheet of just what to say and do to sound both knowledgeable and handsome when sampling five different types of bivalves found at the best shell-food purveyors in the Hub.
Island Creek (Duxbury, MA) What You'll Likely Taste: Salt water. What You Should Say You Taste: "Wow, I'm getting a little bit of melon, and some eel grass. There's definitely salt up front, but then the sweetness comes in and smacks you in the face, but in a gentle likable way". Where You Can Find Them: East Coast Grill, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Eastern Standard
Moon Shoal (Barnstable, MA) What You'll Likely Taste: Water, with salt in it. What You Should Say You Taste: "These things are extremely meaty, have a creamy texture, and a ton of liquor, which is obviously what they call the residual liquid left in the shell after shucking, and not something I recently looked up". Gratuitous Fact Drop: These are grown by a fireman in Barnstable when he's not rescuing people. Where You Can Find Them: Russell House Tavern, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Eastern Standard
Katama Bay (Martha's Vineyard, MA) What You'll Likely Taste: Some really damn salty water. What You Should Say You Taste: "This has a deeply salty kick so it was likely much deeper in the water than most, but it has a soft ending like a stainless steel Chardonnay, and most of the Berenstain Bears books". Bonus Tip: Cut this one with lemon, or the salt will kick you in the mouth. Where You Can Find Them: B&G Oysters
Wellfleet (Wellfleet, MA) What You'll Likely Taste: Water + salt. What You Should Say You Taste: "These bad boys have a yeasty, bready, funky thing going on. They're silky with a lot of life, sort of well-meaning but a little bit off, like Lisa Kudrow on every show ever". Bonus When You Order These: You can bring up that night in Wellfleet when you saw people triple kissing during the Barrington Levy concert at the Beachcomber. Where You Can Find Them: Neptune Oyster Bar, B&G
Conway Royale (Northern Prince Edward Island, Canada) What You'll Likely Taste: A tart melon with... sike. Salt water. What You Should Say You Taste: "I'm getting a vegetal, sea-briny finish, with a lot of salt, but almost a smooth table salt. As you can tell from what I just said, I can even distinguish between the types of salt I taste". Perfect to Share With: Your Canadian model girlfriend that you met at sleepaway camp and totally exists. Where You Can Find Them: Eastern Standard