San Francisco History


Native Oyster is Small but Sweet.

Succulent Bivalves From the Atlantic Coast Thrive in Local Beds.

The oyster of San Francisco is famous. Its celebrity has gone forth to the ends of the earth, carried by the eloquent tongues of the gourmand, native or visitor, who has tasted, smacked his lips, tasted again, and instantly has become the willing slave to the appetite for the delicious bivalve that thrives upon the oyster beds of San Francisco bay.

San Francisco bay is an extensive sheet of water. It includes not only the water front known by the commuter, but long miles more in every direction, some parts known by other names, and some reaches rarely visited by the ordinary city dweller. Along its great extent of shores the oyster lies contentedly in his muddy couch, fattening for the epicure.

There are, generally speaking, two classes of oysters for sale in the cafes, restaurants, oyster grottoes and retail stores of this city. There are the so called California oysters. This is the real Pacific coast oyster. He is an aborigine, he belongs to the soil and his father and grandfather and great-grandfather oysters dwelt before him in the same ooze which he finds so satisfactory as a place of residence. This oyster is small but very, very delicious. What he lacks in size he more than makes up in palatable sweetness. San Francisco and California are proud of him and to show that pride, consume him in enormous quantities.

Then there is the eastern oyster. The eastern oyster does not belong here, as his name indicates, he is a stranger in our midst, an unwilling visitor, never consulted before he was unceremoniously torn from his old home and the association of his dear family and friends in Chesapeake bay and other places on the Atlantic coast. In other words, this is the transplanted oyster. Brought to this coast when very small, the eastern oysters are placed in oyster beds which have been found suitable for their growth. They grow to fine size and rival the delicacy and appetizing quality of the native son oyster. And so it is that the San Franciscan may have upon his table at home or in the restaurant the toke point, the blue point, or any other variety which he most affects.

The retail oyster business is also a very profitable one. It flourishes in every section of the city, for San Francisco is undeniably an oyster eating community, and it takes many dealers to supply the big demand from day to day.

San Francisco's oyster houses were famous before the fire. They were cozy retreats with an atmosphere of quaint hospitality not to be found elsewhere and they made a specialty of supplying the most luscious oysters to be bought in the market. Many of them had their regular patrons, men and women who had been coming year after year to indulge their taste for the enchanting bivalve.

These establishments did not perish with the fire of three years ago. It is true that some of them have sought new locations, but nearly all of them are in business again and area serving oysters of the same high quality as before. A number are to be found in the old locations and the old patrons who return to them will have the pleasure of satisfying their taste for oysters and at the same time meditating on the old days before the fire.

It would take the pen of a poet guided by the imagination of an epicure to do any sort of justice to the oysters of San Francisco. They are a joy forever, an emblem of good fellowship, the forerunner of delicately prepare meals, and they are never so enjoyable as when they are consumed to the accompaniment of a pint of any of San Francisco's famous brews or of California wine.

Source: San Francisco Call. 20 April 1909. 10.


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