Languedoc-Roussillon: Home to France’s best oysters
The Bouzigues oyster is famous for its flavour and freshness. It is produced in the Thau lagoon using a method unique in France. I invite you to come over and discover this extraordinary local product that combines affordable price with very good quality.
A bit of history
It is in 1925 in the Thau pond of Bouzigues that the oyster culture began when a bricklayer named Louis Tudesq invented an authentic technique called oyster collage. His way involves sticking the little oysters one by one, attaching them with cement on a rope that is suspended in water and then letting them grow this way until they reach the ideal size to get harvested and eaten.
Being the cradle of oyster culture in the Languedoc region, Bouzigues is an attractive little village of a population of 900 inhabitants that principally rely on tourism generated by oyster and mussel breeding to live. Interestingly enough, the place has succeeded in keeping its traditions and charm as a small typical Mediterranean village of fishermen intact for generations.
More about Bouzigues oysters
The Thau pond is made up of 5 big oyster sites : Bouzigues, Loupian, Mèze, Marseillan and Sète. In total, around 12’000 tons of oysters are produced every year.
The “Bouzigue”, although essentially commercialized in its original region, is a hollow oyster yet famous and revered by connoisseurs almost everywhere in Europe. An oyster fair takes place every year in Bouzigues on the second weekend of August. Around 800 oyster growers from the Thau pond come to showcase their product which tastes quite peculiar, slightly salty with a hazelnut flavour.. The texture is very fleshy, crispy and tender at the same time.
Oysters are known as being low-calorie food (60 calories per 100 grams) and for their nutritional value (proteins, mineral salts, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B12, C and it is the only animal source of vitamin C, D, E, iron, calcium, magnesium, iodine, zinc, copper, phosphorus).
What’s more, oysters contain antioxidant properties that can prevent cancer, ageing and cardio-vascular diseases.
Useful things one should know before eating oysters
The oyster should not be consumed if :
It is open or half-open.
A bad smell emanates from it.
The shell contains a sort of second intern lining.
Always remember that oysters have 3 fatal enemies: freezing, heating and your knife.
Traditionally, this delicacy is best enjoyed with friends, family and loved ones. Bonne dégustation!
How they grow
Growing delicious oysters is a process that takes up to four years. It starts with a few million fresh oyster seeds. We get our seed, or larvae, from a hatchery further up the Oregon Coast when the larvae are only two weeks old,. They’re delivered to Umpqua Aquaculture overnight and maintained at a temperature of about 40 degrees F, which keeps them dormant during the trip.
The seed arrives in a lump about the size of a golf ball, which is divided among three large containers maintained at our processing plant, and dispersed in buckets of cold water. Warmer water is then incrementally added to reanimate the seeds and bring them up to the proper incubation temperature of 80 degrees F.
The food-grade tanks are filled with warmed incubation water from the Umpqua Estuary at high tide, rich in algae and phytoplankton. The tanks, into which the new seed is added, contain nets filled with empty recycled oyster shells.
For about two days, the seeds swim freely, then permanently attach themselves to the shells with an adhesive they excrete. After the young oysters are attached, the temperature of the incubation tanks is gradually lowered to match the temperature of the bay. The young oysters, now called spat, are moved in their nets to the triangular breakwater to grow. After a couple of months, the shells filled with baby oysters are attached to long lines and suspended for longer-term growth in the Triangle
After the oysters have grown for at least two years for the smaller sizes and up to four years for the larger, they’re ready for harvest. We use a custom-made barge with a motorized boom to raise the oyster lines, now weighing about 150 lbs. each. The oysters are cut free from the float line, placed in totes and hauled back to the plant, where they’re tracked by number for quality control and processed for shell-stock or shucking.
Shell-stock oysters are cleaned and sold in the shell in sizes jumbo, medium, small and extra small. Shucked oysters are sorted and sold as large, medium, small, extra small and yearling. Throughout, ice keeps the oysters fresh at a temperature of about 33 degrees F. until they reach your palate!