"Cheap and plentiful, they’ve long been a menu staple in New Orleans and beyond. But recent months have brought a crisis that worries fishermen and chefs."
"NEW ORLEANS — For decades, customers who visited the P & J Oyster Company’s headquarters in the French Quarter on the day before Thanksgiving were greeted by a sampling of what the holiday would bring: baked oysters, oyster dressing, oyster soup, oysters Rockefeller.
“There are so many things you can make with our oysters,” said Al Sunseri, who runs the company, an oyster distributor and processor, with his brother Sal and son, Blake. “I don’t see that tradition coming back.”
The Thanksgiving buffet stopped appearing in 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disrupted oyster harvests all along the Gulf Coast, and particularly in Louisiana, normally the nation’s largest oyster-producing state.
The business, and the distinctive cooking and dining traditions it supports, had already been battered by Hurricane Katrina five years earlier. And now it is enduring an even bigger setback: This spring and summer, the Mississippi River, swollen by Midwestern rain and snow, inundated coastal marshes, lakes and bays with freshwater, killing oysters by the millions. That has led to shortages and soaring prices."