June 13, 2012


Named after some guy related to Beyoncé.

The BeauSoleil oyster was for me -- and many others -- an introduction to raw oysters. Their clean, delicate, moderately-salty flavor make them a very approachable oyster for those taking their first trepidatious slurps. Grown by Maison BeauSoleil in Miramichi Bay, New Brunswick, where the waters are very cold and clean. Typical for the region (atypical everywhere else), the growers collect wild spat (baby oysters) from their local waters using devices known as Chinese Hats, then raise them in floating bags just under the surface of the water where it is warm enough for the oysters to grow and feed normally. Because the water is so cold this far north, ice can be a major problem, and freezing oysters kills them very efficiently. To avoid this travesty, they submerge the bags deep under the ice during the winter to protect them.

Like many plants and animals, in very cold environments oysters grow more slowly, which can result in a more compact, sturdy shell and firmer meats than is common in warmer climes. BeauSoleils are harvested at 3-5 years old between 2.5-3" and hand-packed into wooden crates cup-down to extend their shelf life. They also sell a larger size, marketed as French Kiss oysters, which are harvested at 5+ years old and are 3-4" in length (they're great if you can get them, super meaty).

What? You want to know about the connection to Beyoncé? Alright, here's the story:

BeauSoleil oysters are named after Joseph Broussard (nicknamed BeauSoleil, "Beautiful Sun" in French), a leader in the Acadian Resistance of the mid-1700s. In a nutshell, the British were trying to settle in New Brunswick and -- in typical British fashion -- attempted to expel those already in the area by force. Broussard and his militia troops captured 17 British supply ships in the summer of 1759, hampering the expulsion and earning him a place in local history. Later on, he moved a group of Acadians and his family (wife and 11 children) to what is now southern Louisiana. From his progeny, a star was born, albeit a couple hundred years later. I'm sure he had plenty of descendants who accomplished great things, but, really, who can compete with Beyoncé?

I wonder if she likes oysters...

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