Taste of a Place | Water Gives Oysters Unique “Meroir”

By Sarah Schumann Photographs by Angel Tucker “More than any other food, oysters taste like the place they come from,” writes author Rowan Jacobson in his connoisseur’s guide Geography of Oysters. “While they are creatures of the sea, they draw their unique characteristics from the land and how it affects their home waters … Think of an oyster as a lens, its concave shell focusing everything that is unique about a particular body of water into a morsel of flesh.” The unique taste of an oyster is called its “meroir.” A takeoff on the viticulturist’s “terroir” — the characteristic taste of a wine imparted by the soil, climate, and topography in which its grapes are grown — the meroir of an oyster derives from the sediments, algae, and salinity of the location in pond or bay where an oyster is raised. Rhode Island’s oyster meroirs are considered among the best: According to Geography of Oysters, “Some of the most savory oysters in the world come from a geographical arc running from the eastern end of Long Island, along the ragged Rhode Island coast, to Block Island, Cuttyhunk, and Martha’s Vineyard: the line marking the terminal moraine of the most recent glacier. … Continue reading Taste of a Place | Water Gives Oysters Unique “Meroir”