Tuesday, February 28, 2017

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 319: Eat “Oysters Rockefeller”

Just about like everyone walking around, I’d heard of Oysters Rockefeller all of my life, but for whatever reason I’d never eaten any. I’m pretty sure that the only reason I’d never tried them was mostly because I’d never been anywhere that served them. I put them on my “bucket list” several years ago, and finally got the chance to eat some the other day.

For those of you unfamiliar with Oysters Rockefeller, they are oysters on a half-shell and usually topped with parsley, butter, bread crumbs and sometimes cheese. The oyster itself is usually either baked or broiled. Around where I live, about the only place you can get them is at a seafood restaurant.

My interest in eating Oysters Rockefeller really ramped up when my buddy Gilbert Harden came back from Pensacola a while back regaling me with tales of the delicious Oysters Rockefellers he’d eaten there. With that in mind, a week or so ago, my wife and I went to the Wintzel’s Oyster House in Greenville, Ala. Not long after we arrived, I noticed that they had Oysters Rockefeller on the menu, so I ordered half a dozen to see what all the fuss was about.

I ate my six Oysters Rockefeller slowly, savoring them as I slowly thought about their taste and texture. I thought they were really, really good with a cheesy vegetable taste with an aftertaste that reminded me of Parmesan. I’d eat them again in a heartbeat, but my wife declined my repeated offers to try one.

While researching this bucket list item, I was interested to learn that Oysters Rockefeller, despite its New England-sounding name, is actually a Southern dish. It was created in 1899 by Jules Alciatore, who worked at his father’s restaurant, Antoine’s in New Orleans. This famous restaurant has been serving Oysters Rockefeller for the past 118 years and the estimate that they’ve served nearly four million over the years.

I’ve always been somewhat curious about how this oyster dish got its name, which always made me think about the wealthy Rockefeller, which is also probably why I thought the dish had New England roots. As it turns out, the dish was named after John D. Rockefeller, who happened to be one of the wealthiest men in American in the 1890s. Rockefeller, who died at the age of 97 in 1937, made a huge fortune in the oil business.

There is no doubt in my mind that I would try Oysters Rockefeller again if given the opportunity. In fact, I think I could easily eat more than half a dozen because I still had room left for more after my recent trip to Wintzel’s in Evergreen. Off the top of my head, I bet I could eat 18 or more at one sitting and not be overly stuffed.

In the end, how many of you have eaten “Oysters Rockefeller”? What did you think about it? What other unusual foods would you recommend trying? Let us know in the comments section below.

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