Luis and the oysters of Playa Dorada
Destination: Playa Dorada, Dominican Republic
Some people adore them; others nearly choke by the idea of having to swallow down one of these salty, slippery, and hard to break out of their shell creatures. Yes, I am talking about the oyster
For those who love the oyster, I am a particularly big fan; the Dominican Republic is a true culinary Walhalla since its wonderful blue sea is home to the Atlantic Thorny Oyster (Spondylus Americanus) that can grow to be about 10 cm (4 inches) long. Culinary Walhalla in this case does not mean a fancy restaurant; no I am talking about heaven on the beach, this time served up by Louis. Luis is a mellow oyster vendor who you will regularly meet at the beaches of Puerto Plata’s Playa Dorada. Luis only speaks his dialect Spanish and is truly impossible to understand for someone outside the region. This doesn’t matter since it is absolutely clear what he is selling! Louis only has one goal in that regard….”How many do you want?” In his basket he carries the fresh oysters, which he harvested from the sea just this morning. When you want one, he cleans them for you and –in case you like that- sprinkles some limejuice over them. Ah… delicious. Look at me! I am standing with my feet in the warm sand, my second freshly prepared oyster in one hand and a glass of white wine in the other. Here I go, go and go again until I swallowed five of these heavenly creatures. That same afternoon, I mean just a few hours later, I am sitting in the lobby of the hotel and listen to the tour operator who fires off his “new arrivals speech”: “At the beach you can buy many souvenirs and various other kinds of products; but look out! It is not recommended to eat oysters from local vendors since if you do, you can become VERY, VERY, ILL”. My eyes grow big and certainly reveal a profound sense of shock; I put my hands on my stomach…. The next morning I still feel tip-top. Nothing wrong with Debbie, I conclude. Sometimes you have to take a small risk to fully experience the virtues of another culture.
I think I might go to the beach again to see if Luis is there.