Out and About Paris

Utah Beach : Of War and Oysters

Utah Beach is where the Americans and Allies landed to liberate France and end the second World War.  It’s also the name of the plumpest, nuttiest, sweetest oysters imaginable.  Raised in Normandy, these oysters seem singular to me – I can’t think of an American equivalent; if you can, please pipe up.  

I called this variety plump, but you might go so far as to call them fat, since they fill their substantial shells almost completely. According to what I’ve read, the reason for their chubbiness is wind.  The position of the oysters beds allows the wind to help the oysters grown while keeping the shell size at bay (so to speak).  Whatever it is, they’re so worth seeking out when you’re in  France.

I had these the other night at Ellsworth and I plan to have them again tonight when I return there.


And if you’ve pooh-poohed farm-raised oysters in the past, or if you’d like to know more about oysters in general, take a look at this article in Lucky Peach by Rowan Jacobsen.  It’s an eye-opener.

A cute aside:  I have been eating oysters early and often in Paris and had an experience on last week that reminded me of how lucky am I to be able to do this.  I had this big platter of oysters at the center of the dinner table, as I do often for holiday meals.  A young woman from Iceland came for dinner and when she saw the platter she exclaimed: “How exciting! I’ve never had oysters in anyone’s home before.”  You know what?  Before I came to Paris, I hadn’t either.  For some reason – perhaps for many reasons – oysters at home seem more special and even more luxurious than oysters in a restaurant.  Try it and let me know if you agree.


Dorie Greenspan

eating out, Ellsworth, Lucky Peach, out and about, oysters, Paris, restaurants, Rowan Jacobsen, travel, Utah Beach

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  1. “For some reason – perhaps for many reasons – oysters at home seem more special and even more luxurious than oysters in a restaurant. Try it and let me know if you agree.”

    For me it is just the opposite. I grew up in low-country South Carolina and my introduction to oysters was at outdoor oyster roasts in the autumn. Everyone standing around in the cold eating raw oysters with cocktail sauce while the others were roasting on a sheet of iron over a fire (or running inside for a cup of chowder to get warm). There was nothing luxurious or elegant about it but the oysters were wonderful.

    I don’t think I ever ate an oyster in a restaurant until I started coming to France.