On my last afternoon in Hong Kong, I dropped by the Sheraton to survey the day’s oyster offerings, and my heart leapt at a familiar name:
Damariscottas (Maine, U.S.A)
Sweet Lord. You have to understand: Damariscottas are my all-time favorite oysters. Their beds lie just upstream from the chilly Atlantic on the tidal Damariscotta River. (Some of the more famous Damariscotta “brands” include Pemaquid, Glidden Point, and Dodge Cove.) The confluence of fresh- and saltwater infuses them with that coveted combination of sweetness and brine. Surviving the cold requires a strong constitution, so Damariscottas are hardy, thick-shelled oysters, firm in texture and (I like to think) resolve, not unlike the burly guys in galoshes who haunt the wharves of Maine’s midcoast. They taste like—well, like how I imagine drowning might taste, but in a wholly good way. And here they were, a dozen time zones away, in Kow-freaking-loon.
In a fit of irrational exuberance, I shelled out $78 for a dozen. They were worth every cent. I knocked back the first, and bang—just like always, I was immediately back on the beach, eight years old, dashing from the frigid surf to the warm comfort of a Star Wars towel, the wind in my ears and the salty Atlantic on my tongue.
Sure, they might have tasted even better plucked fresh from the Damariscotta River. But I prefer to imagine that, like me, they’d gained something in the journey. Or maybe I was overthinking it. Maybe they just tasted like home.
Peter Jon Lindberg, T+L’s editor-at-large, still has his Star Wars beach towel.