The Garden District Bookshop Cookbook Club recently hosted Sal Sunseri and Merri Sunseri-Schneider of the P&J Oyster company, who conducted a discussion of their new P&J Oyster Cookbook. The siblings help run the circa 1876 oyster supplying company, and supply Louisiana's finest bivalves to a variety of local eateries and grocery stores.
Renowned cookbook author and photographer Kit Wohl collaborated with the Sunseri family to produce the new volume, which combines gorgeous imagery with tried-and-tested mollusk concoctions. The book includes over 120 oyster recipes collected from all over the Big Easy, combining well-loved Sunseri family favorites with classics from the region's finest restaurants and restauranters. Local luminaries like Donald Link, Susan Spicer, John Besh, Darin Nesbit and others contributed their favorite oyster preparations, producing a book that will be sure to thrill any seafood obsessed foodie.
The Cookbook Club discussion began with an interesting account of the 125 year old company's origins and history, detailing how the Sunseri family became the heirs to the country's most venerable oyster company. Club members learned about the company's numbered oyster fishing grounds, the current state of the oyster crop (not so hot) and the boats and fishermen that bring in the little beasties year after year.
The talk moved onto a fascinating description of the life and lifestyle of the humble beasts, exploding a few popular oyster myths. For example: the blanket condemnation of oyster consumption in "r" months is outmoded, dating from an era prior to widespread refrigeration. As for oysters reputation as an aphrodisiac? Well, sort of. Oysters don't actually put you in the mood for love, but their potent and highly nutritious combination of nutrients certainly contributes to one's personal health - and a healthy person is, after all, a happy one.
Potluck style refreshments included a scrumptious Oysters Rockefeller soup, a tasty Oysters Joseph casserole, a delightfully boozy bread pudding and plenty of wine. The latest meeting of the Garden District Bookshop Cookbook Club was another resounding (and delicious) success.