"Merroir meets Terroir" -- Brent Petkau (an excerpt from "The Cortes Island Food Book")
So what do Cortes Island and the finest wine producing regions of the world have in common? Answer: A natural environment that produces distinctive premium quality wines and shellfish.
The French word "terroir" describes the total natural environment of any viticultural site. Major components of terroir are SOIL (as the word suggests), and local TOPOGRAPHY, together with their interactions with MICROCLIMATES. The holistic combinations of all these factors give each wine producing areas it's own unique "terroir".
Well, the same exciting concept applies to our own Cortes Island oysters, clams, mussels and scallops. But with a slight twist. Instead of terroir, we have "merroir", a recently created French word that speaks about the sea instead of the soil.
To follow up on this concept of "merroir", an oyster grown in a "suspended" deep water oyster lease, such as what you find in the Gorge Harbour, will taste different from a "beach culture oyster". This is primarily due to the deep-water oyster being suspended, mouth wide open, eating 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, never coming in contact with flavors that are derived from minerals in the soil, at the bottom of the sea.
You too can discover a variety of flavors if you just put on your rubber boots, pull out your shucking tool, and on a weekly basis, discover the pearl that is right in your own back yard. Note: When I speak about finding your own oysters and clams, this can be a stretch if you live in Vancouver, Toronto, New York or Nelson, British Columbia. The solution to sourcing the freshest shellfish is ........ FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR LOCAL OYSTER MAN or supplier of premium quality shellfish.
As microclimates change throughout the different seasons, treat yourself to the knowledge that the shellfish flavors will be forever changing. "Whoa there Seabiscuit!" Try eating an oyster during the "spawning" season, when the oysters are fully engaged in making LOVE. The creaminess, the metallic flavors, the lusty after-taste..... is what oysters from Cortes Island in July and August are all about. As for the taste of oysters during Valentines' Day....... their licentious reputation is well earned in science, folklore, mythology and the bedroom.
Or hey, in spring, an oyster like my " Royal Courtesans", seem to taste like a kiwi fruit. Or freshly picked lettuce.
Just as a concept such as "merroir" can open up our palates to better appreciate the potential that is in each oyster, clam, mussel or scallop, every month of the year, so too does the notion of using bioregional resources that are right in our back yards, affect how we view the world around us.
When Shakespeare spoke about "Making the World Your OYSTER", he was probably speaking about the potential that is in everything. Sourcing local sustainable foods and wines, discovering our own "potential", is kind of like...... Polishing the Pearl...... that is before the swine.
We are what we eat and drink (and read).