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Sex, Death and Oysters: A Half-Shell Lover's World Tour

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  189 ratings  ·  27 reviews
When award-winning Texas food writer Robb Walsh discovers that the local Galveston Bay oysters are being passed off as Blue Points and Chincoteagues in other parts of the country, he decides to look into the matter. Thus begins a five-year journey into the culture of one of the world’s oldest delicacies. Walsh’s through-the-looking-glass adventure takes him from oyster ree ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 20th 2009 by Counterpoint (first published October 28th 2006)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  189 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book left no taste in my mouth -- you should pardon the expression. The author has a tin ear and all the people he meets and talks to sound like himself. To give an example, he describes one character as "a wildman" but never shows us anything to indicate why. Most damning is his near-total inability to describe what he is looking for in an oyster or even which one he likes the best. He seems to say, over and over, wherever he goes, "this is the best oyster of all!" without differentiating ...more
Aurore Labenheim
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Awesome info for the oyster lover that I am. Being in the Midwest it is really hard to find oysters in their prime and a lot of the ones I had in the past in Chicago were flavorless. I always thought that the smaller oysters of the West Coast were the only ones that could provide this salty, briny flavor I love si much to balance the sweetness of the meat. I now know it has everything to do with seasonality. Great food book, filled with recipes and good addresses.
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the first half of this book, but by the end, it was a chose to finish. Although each place he traveled to was fascinating and an interesting history related to oysters, the book's format became something like: "and then I went here and ate oysters. Then I went here and ate oysters. Then I went here and ate oysters. . ." Just stopped caring.

Also, I was disappointed that the author made light of the environmental impacts. Both in the overall destruction of oyster beds across the globe an
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book delivers exactly what's promised; an oyster lover's world tour. I grew up eating oysters and have had them all over the States, but I learned a ton about oysters, where they come from, and how they're marketed from this book. I'm not sure how relevant the recommendations are today given that this book came out in 2009, but it's a great jumping off point to explore oyster hot spots and certainly makes me think twice about paying out the nose for oysters that may be mislabeled. I look fo ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A cookbook, history lesson AND a mystery - that is what Author Robb Walsh has achieved here. This fascinating look at bivalves covers a lot of territory, and always in an entertaining fashion. I love books that mix recipes with history and insight, and this does it perfectly....https://johnrieber.com/2018/08/06/sex... ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a huge fan of both gulf coast oysters and Robb Walsh (Houston Press and my favorite Nuevo TexMex cookbook), I was fully prepared to enjoy this book. What I wasn't prepared for was how much I'd learn about oysters and how many recipes I'd want to try! It's a cold winter day here--torn between heading out to find a dozen on the half shell or make the oyster stew recipe in this fun, fast read about my favorite bivalve. ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was a little wary to learn more about this food that I love, but Walsh's presentation of the topic was funny, informative, and eye-opening! He samples oysters and researches oyster farming or collecting from around the world, and editorializes his findings with pleasant, easy-going humor. I'm excited to check out his other food-related books! ...more
Maggie Schedl
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
So incredibly unexpectedly a super well written book. Still won't eat a raw 'erster tho ...more
Lauren Levine
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun journey around the oyster hot spots of the world and the local culture around those oysters. Author is a bit obnoxious, but not so much to ruin the oysters.
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oysters on the half shell are one of my favorite treats. Some of you may remember when my friend David and I spent National Oyster Day on a Manhattan binge of the molluscs. Now, I don’t know Walsh’s writing, but apparently he’s somewhat of a big deal on the Houston food scene. And his writing is well crafted and flows smoothly. I learned more about oysters in this book than I have in decades of food world experience. And for that, it’s worth a read.

But, the book suffers from two things, though i
Joie Mikitson
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Food writers, sheesh. Mr Walsh, you love your new wife and you love Texas, I get it, but this book was supposed to be about oysters, not a rambling ode to your own tastes and wit. I wanted a micro-history about my delicious little obsessions that taste like the ocean, and instead I got rambling, conversational bias. I found myself actively distrusting and even disliking the author by the end, though he is quite possibly a lovely person in real life. Although there definitely are some interesting ...more
Tony Espy
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it

This is a good read for anyone who loves oysters. The author travels around the world tasting local oysters, talking to people in the oyster business, and sharing tales of festivals, parties, recipes, and bars/restaurants. He also discusses myths and traditions of the various oyster cultures around the world.

I honestly would've given the book four stars, however as the author skipped New England almost completely ( except for a chapter on Long Island Sound / Norwalk, CT ), three it is... Finally

Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I chose this book because I have enjoyed other books by Walsh, and I have never met an oyster I didn't like. I was surprised to find out how little I knew about oysters and I found all of the information fascinating though occasionally overwhelming. I asked myself at about the two-third point how I would ever remember it all, and reviewed what I learned. I realized that I retained all the major points and a few of the sparks of joy in humanity--such as whiskey over the grave of Raymond Carver. G ...more
Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
As much as I enjoyed reading about Walsh's travels all over in pursuit of the most delicious oysters -- THANK YOU, Robb Walsh, for sticking up for our beloved Gulf oysters! As a reader of the Houston Press, I've followed Walsh's writing for years, and this book did not disappoint, either in its scope or its sheer joy. I love oysters, and I love how this book made me love them more. ...more
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great stories and tour of the oyster's world- from ocean to plate. Now, I will be far more curious as to the real origin of those Blue Points and the trendy name brand oysters. The book's recipes also looked intriguing and I must say that I now want to make a winter trip to Galveston to bring back a bag of oysters. ...more
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gastronomy
Since I've been to Le Dome, the Acme Oyster House, Zuni Cafe and Casamento's, this book really resonated for me. I also enjoy oysters so it was very educational. As a former resident of Houston, I read Walsh's restaurant reviews and always enjoyed them. He's very open minded, adventurous and fun loving. It was a lot of fun to read. ...more
Donna Jo Atwood
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: food, nonfiction
I don't know what made me pick up this book--I take that back. The title made me do it. I don't like oysters, but this book had my saliva flowing. This is a combination travel book, oyster business guide, and cook book.
I found the writing entertaining and the info interesting. I still don't like oysters.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Never thought I would learn this much about oysters in my lifetime. I'm still not sure if I am any more or less inclined to eat them, but I will certainly never look at an oyster bar menu the same way again. I must say, my favorite thing that I gleaned from this impassioned foodie tale is the word aquaculture. I plan to start using it frequently. ...more
Feb 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Considering what's happening right now in the Gulf of Mexico with this horrible oil spill - this is great book to pick up and see how horribly effected by this disaster the oyster farmers and fishermen are going to be. ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure if I could "stomach" a whole book about oysters, but this was very entertaining. More a travel book that centered on oysters, it is well worth a read esp. if you are in a location/culture that prizes oyster consumption. ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Walsh is an edgy, refreshingly unpretentious voice in food writing, and I hope to encounter more of his work. I only skimmed this, but particularly enjoyed its visual guide to the world's five different species of oysters. ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it liked it
I've eaten raw oysters only once in my life, and found it similar to swallowing phlegm with Tabasco sauce -- but Robb Walsh still made me hungry for the little suckers, and if that isn't the mark of a good food writer, I don't know what is. (read for Popdose review) ...more
May 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Awesome in the beginning. Turned repetitive. Interesting concept and learn a lot, just couldn't hold my interest in finishing. ...more
Jada Tullos
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: texas
Entertaining and educational. Robb Walsh did a great job going into the science as well as the oyster cult(ure). Good Texas author!
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A great tour of bivalves around the world. If you think you know your oysters, think again and read this book for some great insight.
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I plan to re-read this book...

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Robb Walsh is the author of four previous Texas cookbooks, including The Tex-Mex Cookbook. He is also the food critic for the Houston Press.

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