Oystering communities around the world take pride in the quality and freshness of their succulent bivalves, and Apalachicola is no exception. With its brackish waters and calm winds, Apalachicola Bay is a prime setting for both oysters and the industry built around them to thrive.
The people of Apalachicola possess skills, beliefs, and a spirit of generosity and perseverance that make the community unique. Crafts such as boat building or oyster tong making are passed down through generations, as are techniques for harvesting and shucking the oysters. Successful seafood distributors make the product available to the many restaurants and retailers in the region, and the community celebrates its heritage during the annual Florida Seafood Festival.
From 1986-1987, the Florida Folklife Program, in collaboration with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, conducted the Maritime Heritage Survey. The fieldworkers documented fishing communities around the state, including a wealth of interviews and photographs from Apalachicola. The following sound clips came from that survey.
Oyster shuckers Virginia Duggar and Nanette Lolley describe techniques for shucking oysters and the tools of the trade.
Corky Richards discusses materials and terminology used for building oyster tongs, how they are built, what makes a good pair of tongs, and how they can be customized for each oysterman.
Knife maker Loys Cain discusses materials and tools for building oyster shucking knives, as well as how health and safety regulations have impacted the construction of the knives.
How do you like your oysters? Baked? Steamed? Raw on the half-shell? Tell us about where your favorite oysters come from and how you eat them!