Shelter Islanders in aquaculture do more than just savor the shellfish

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO Zibby Munson flipping over the oyster cages tethered to her dock on Menantic Creek.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO
Zibby Munson flipping over the oyster cages tethered to her dock on Menantic Creek.

No one is indifferent to oysters.

For some, like author and master chef James Beard, the meat of the oyster is “one of the supreme delights that nature has bestowed.”

French author Michel de Montaigne compared them to violets and his countryman, poet Leon-Paul Fargue, rhapsodized that eating an oyster is “like kissing the sea on the lips.”

And then there are those who can’t prevent a shudder of revulsion when spying a pale mass of slimy stuff sitting in a shell. Slurp or chew that? Please.

Count Islanders Peter and Zibby Munson among the lovers. Last week, on the porch of their home above Menantic Creek, Mr. Munson noted that he had to go through a period of conversion to the oyster cult.

“My father never had an oyster in his life,” he said, describing his father’s idea of eating one as beyond nauseating. But, like the Frenchmen mentioned above, Mr. Munson was hooked by osmosis.

“When I lived in France,” he said, describing a job for an American firm in Paris and Dijon, “it was a hard to avoid them. They’re ubiquitous.”

He and Ms. Munson are so enamored of oysters that they raise their own, as part of the Southold Project in Aquaculture Training (SPAT) program of Cornell Cooperative Extension, which teaches novices the art of oyster “gardening.”

Read more about oyster gardening on the Shelter Island Reporter website