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The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 9. Januar 2007

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Advance praise for The Big Oyster

“In his portrait of the once-famous oyster beds of New York Harbor, Kurlansky beautifully illustrates food’s ability to connect us deeply to our particular place in the world, and shows how our nourishment is so vitally tied to the health of the natural world.”
–Alice Waters

“Mark Kurlansky has done it again. The Big Oyster is a zesty love song to a bivalve and a city–intelligent, informative, and impossible to put down.”
–Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award—winning author of In the Heart of the Sea

Praise for Mark Kurlansky

1968: The Year That Rocked the World

“Memorable, essential, and in its own way wondrous.”
–The Boston Globe

Salt: A World History

“Bright writing and, most gratifyingly, an enveloping narrative.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World

“This eminently readable book is a new tool for scanning world history.”
–The New York Times Book Review

From the Hardcover edition.


From the bestselling author of Salt and Cod comes a fascinating history of New York and the oyster - its influence on four centuries of cultural, economic, and culinary trends - with recipes throughout -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.

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37 von 39 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Delicious history... 12. April 2006
Von Addison Phillips - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
BIG OYSTER is Kurlansky's latest food-themed history (following his previous COD and SALT). It differs from his previous books in several ways, but still serves up a tasty morsel.

Although the title and cover suggest that the book is about oysters, it's actually a history of New York city--the choices and, in particular, the (hindsight-only) mistakes in handling the environment that transformed Manhattan island and its surroundings from pastoral beauty to modern Gotham. Today, New York is the very totem, the very image of "city". This is how it got that way--through the eyes of the oyster.

As a book, it's an interesting read. Kurlansky's scholarship and research are excellent and we get telling anecdotes and solid detail throughout. The titular bivalve, though, sometimes goes missing from sections or has only a peripheral connection to much of the text. At the end the author notes that the book was adapted from Sunday supplement articles and it feels stretched. That's too bad, because it's still a good read and a pleasant diversion. (Don't think I'll try the 17th Century oyster recipes though...)
40 von 45 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A half shell of "delicious" 18. März 2006
Von Jon Hunt - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Mark Kurlansky has a knack for writing about meaningful food histories ("Cod" and "Salt" precede his new book, "The Big Oyster") and much of his new work is as fun as the others. Kurlansky offers a somewhat zig-zagging tale of the forward march of the oyster, most of it revolving around the history of New York.

Who would have thought that a writer could fill 280 pages of prose related to this delectable bivalve? Well, the answer is that while the author does tell much about the oyster there are many oysterless pages in evidence, somewhat stretched out by accompanying recipes. "The Big Oyster" is a book that is often in search of itself. It occasionally gets sidetracked in telling about the growth of New York, resulting in the unfortunate oyster sometimes getting pushed off to the side. However, Kurlansky is at his best when he gives reference to Oyster houses, floating wharves and markets and how the oyster became such a staple of both rich and poor. The demise of the New York City oyster beds (the last one closed in 1927) may be a depressing thought for most readers but Kurlansky heartens us by his providing readers with evidence that the waters around New York are cleaner now and that the oyster may one day return.

Kurlansky is terrific at explaining the anatomy of an oyster and how it lives. I didn't know that the oyster is the only mollusk that doesn't move around.... once it attaches itself to an object it remains there for the rest of its life. He's also very good at tidbits of trivia. I hadn't realized that for most of the nineteenth century the Hudson River was know as the "North River". These small "eye-openers" give the book lots of color.

"The Big Oyster", as well as its predecessors, are enjoyable books about subjects one might otherwise not think about reading. Had the author not jumped around so much and kept the focus on his bivalve, he would have had a more streamlined book. Still, "The Big Oyster" is worth the read. I wonder if Kurlansky is already dreaming up a book on the history of caviar....
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Big Surprise! 3. November 2006
Von NLB - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book is absolutely captivating, with a perfect mix of New York historical references and oyster science. I'm from the Hudson Valley and like to eat oysters so this book was perfect for me. But don't think this is a stuffy history lesson. The author dishes up the history, the people, the oysters into a lively story that surprises the reader with word pictures of the times that seem so alive. He writes almost like a historical novelist. And the story itself is full of beauty, destruction, tintillating gossip and a sad ending. I'm not so sure I really want to eat oysters anymore, especially if they are from New York. I would read more from this author though.
31 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Half an oyster loaf 21. Oktober 2006
Von Thomas Lackner - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I wish I could be more positive about a history of one of my favorite foods. I eat oysters on the half shell whenever I'm near a coast, I make oyster stew regularly, every Christmas my turkey gets oyster dressing ... So I'm partial to oysters. And I'm partial to Kurlansky, too. I thought both "Salt" and "Cod" were examples of great writing, not just great food writing; great because they took mundane subjects and turned them into interesting literature. "The Big Oyster" could have done the same thing for bivalves.

Why doesn't it get more than three stars? Too many mistakes. Some are little, quibbling mistakes, like his claim that the word "ecology" was not in use in 1891; Ernst Haeckel coined the term in 1869, and it was in widespread scientific use by the end of the 19th C. Others are more significant mistakes, like attributing invention of the telegraph to "Samuel T. Morse," and giving the same Morse credit for sending the first transatlantic telegram from Delmonico's in 1861. The telegraph, as most third-graders used to know, was invented by Samuel F. B. Morse. (Googling "Samuel T. Morse" produces only a reference to a 2001 lawsuit, filed in New Hampshire by the estate of one S.T. Morse, regarding some allegedly shoddy construction.) And the first transatlantic telegram was sent in 1858, not 1861, by Queen Victoria, not Samuel (F.B. or T.) Morse. The second, more successful transatlantic telegraph was constructed in 1866.

The worst mistake, however, is using the phrase "it was only a theory" when writing about Pasteur's work. To say that an idea is "only a theory" raises all sorts of red flags to scientists, indicating that the writer's grasp of the scientific method is perhaps somewhat tenuous. By the 1880s the germ theory was just that: a well-tested, widely-accepted explanation of the cause of disease.

"The Big Oyster" is, like Kurlansky's other works, well-written and easy to read. One might wish, however, that his research was a little better this time. It makes the observant reader wonder what other mistakes the book might contain.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
How can anyone not love this book? 24. Juli 2007
Von John B. Goode - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
I'm not sure what kind of person would buy this book. It's not 100% history, not 100% science, not 100% recipe, it's a little of everything. After reading this book, I'd say this book is for someone who's not afraid to try something different, some who likes oysters and a little history to go with their oysters. So what is this book about?

1) It's a little bit oysters. The science: such as scientific names, reproduction, anatomy, etc. Just a little, not too much to bore the casual reader, but not enough to interest the casual scientist. I tried to find more about oysters online but there's not a lot of info, I suppose I should go read a book on it.

2) It's a lot about the early to mid-1800's history of New York City. As I like history, I really liked this part.

3) It's a little about oyster recipes. Sprinkled throughout this book are recipes, many from old books and from famous cooks and restaurants. That's a gem. It must have take some effort to collect the recipes and whether you like them or not they are interesting, at least for their historical aspect.

4) It's a little about the history of the oyster trade. This is a very good part of the book as I don't think you could find much written on it anywhere else.

5) New York society in the old days. Talked about the who's who and where they would eat. Interesting reading.

6) New York slums and the inhabitants, also interesting reading.

So to summarize, this book is about oysters, the eating of oysters, the oyster trade and New York city. You can't pidgeonhole this book because it's not history, not gastronomy, but a little of everything. It's quite well written and very easy to read. I enjoyed reading it, a break from my regular diet of thrillers. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I'm going to get Cod and Salt, two other books by this author that got mixed reviews. But I think the author deserves my custom after this book.
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