With a little bit of help from my friends, about 10,000 of
them, I worked my way through 65,000 pounds of steamed
oysters. It's the Low Country Oyster Festival,
sponsored each January by the Charleston Restaurant
Happens at the Boone
Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, just north of Charleston.
One of the most beautiful locations in the area and a
perfect setting for for some serious open air eating.
The oysters are
hauled in by the truck load in burlap bags. Each bag
is dumped into a cooking tray which is then carried to the
steamers. The oysters steam for just a few minutes,
until the shells loosen up a bit.
The cooked oysters
are then hauled to the serving line and dramatically
dumped amidst a cloud of steam. Workers gather the
steaming oysters into a bucket, money is exchanged, and
the buckets of oysters are hauled to the eating area.
It's BYOSK&G - Bring
your own shucking knife and glove. Along with a lawn
chair if you'd feel like sitting. They sell knives
and gloves for the unprepared.
The eating area is a
series of long tables with a giant trash bin for the
oyster shells at each end. Both the tables and the
trash bin fill up quickly.
Some of the local
restaurants set up stands too. It was on the cold
and damp side and a place selling she crab soup was doing
a booming business. But the festival is mostly about
oyster eating. Bucket fulls at a time.
The best advice from
the local folk. Everyone agreed. Get there
early. When the gates open, and stake out your space
at one of the tables.