A Geography of Oysters is a James Beard Award-winning book and a terrific read! Rowan asked to try our oyster knives when we met him at the Chefs Collaborative Summit in Seattle a couple weeks ago. Here is what he posted on his website:
The Perfect Gift for That Special Shucker
Oct 14, 2012
I recently had the opportunity to test-drive the new, flagship oyster knives from R. Murphy Knives, which has been making knives in Ayer, Massachusetts (not far from Concord) since Henry David Thoreau was wandering the region’s woods. In an age of outsourcing and overseas manufacturing, R. Murphy knives are still made in Massachusetts, and still top-quality. (If you don’t believe me, just ask Cook’s Illustrated, which named R. Murphy’s New Haven the best oyster knife in America.) R. Murphy makes a number of oyster knives, in both stainless steel and high-carbon, and you can get them with wooden handles or “Murphy green” plastic, which, truth be told, is what I lean toward, because I feel like you get a better grip and can exert a little more control and force. They make everything from a classic “Chesapeake Stabber” model to the New Haven, the Seattle (which is sharp only at the tip and is designed to go in through the bill, as they do out west), and, impressively, the Duxbury, clearly designed with a nod toward Island Creek Oysters. (If you’ve followed the shucking competition circuit at all, you know that many of the top shuckers grind their blades down to a short nib, and that’s what you get in the Duxbury). Anyway, here is most of the line (clam knives, too):
Most of these knives run you $12-14 bucks, no biggie, but cast your eyes back to the top of this post, because it’s those hand-polished wood-and-brass beauties that really have me salivating. ($37; not so bad, considering.) The handles are extremely heavy, and perfectly weighted, so once they slide into your hand they feel like a natural extension of it. I’ve never used an oyster knife with a weighty handle, and it made a difference. (The blade, of course, was wicked sharp, which didn’t hurt.) I slayed a slew of oysters in record time, and felt a little bit cool while doing so, which is why I highly recommend them for that special someone in your life who likes to kill oysters. I was impressed by the Wellfleet (bottom), but it’s the aptly-named Damariscotta (top) that will basically be inseparable from my right hand from now on. Watch out, bivalves. Resistance is futile.
Rowan Jacobsen hosted the Chefs Collaborative Summit this year. He is the author of numerous books and many articles reporting on food, the environment and the connections between the two. He has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, Harper’s, Outside, Eating Well, Forbes, Popular Science, and others, as well as speaking on sustainability, food, and wine.