Ark of Taste
Delaware Bay Oyster
For 200 years, Delaware Bay oysters have been prized for their fine flavor and plump, firm meat. In their heyday, during the late 19th century, schooners and oystermen harvested the bivalves for local oyster houses and also for restaurants in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Chicago, St. Louis and San Francisco.
The Delaware Bay produces oysters with two distinct flavors, one from the inner bay and the other from the Cape Shore. The Cape Shore oysters are briny, with a sweet, nutty astringency while the inner bay oysters have a milder flavor. Changes in water circulation and a shift in social structure contributed to a long, steady decline in the industry of Delaware Bay. Today there are only five producers left and only three oyster schooners that remain on the bay – the A.J. Meerwald, the Ada C. Lore and the Maggie S. Meyers. The A.J. Meerwald and the Maggie S. Myers are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Maggie S. Myers, built in Bridgeton, NJ, is said to be the oldest continuously working oyster schooner under sail in the U.S.
For more information on the A.J. Meerwald and the history and preservation of the Delaware Bay area, visit ajmeerwald.org.