I'm really enjoying The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky right now. Full of useless facts that will help me dominate Trivial Pursuit, and old ephemera including maps, recipes, photos, drawings, this title traces the history of New York via the rise and fall of the oyster. The author also explores how NYC began to lost touch with the waterways that surround Manhattan Island, in tandem with the dwindling, poisoned and rapidly depleted oyster population. Did you know that in the 1600's, New York Harbor was estimated to hold HALF of the world's oysters? And that the Lenape Indians, Manhattan's first inhabitants, loved oysters as much as the encroaching Europeans, as evidenced by the giant centuries-old shell piles (called middens) found all over the five boroughs? Damn. What a loss. Imagine being able to buy some fresh ones down the street right now: All you can eat for 6 cents on Canal Street.
On that note, Spike Hill up on Bedford now has a 5-8 Happy Hour special with oysters selling for a buck a piece.