Not everyone likes oysters, I realize this. But I do.

Oysters are a kind of culinary litmus test and folks tend to fall on one side or the other — enthusiastically for or vehemently against.

But traveling in Louisiana has quickly taught me that oysters are truly a way of life around here. Oysters live all along the coast and on just about every restaurant menu for a hundred miles inland. They’re served raw on the half-shell, in po’ boys (sandwiches), charbroiled (with sherry or Pernod), or breaded and deep-fried. And they are delicious.

Now I’ve eaten a lot of good oysters in my travels — in Brittany, Seattle, Asia and New Zealand. What I’ve found in Louisiana is that the oysters are so much milder in flavor — not so fishy or salty but almost creamy or buttery in taste (and that’s before they add the butter and wine and Tabasco and Parmesan and everything else delicious that gets dumped on oysters down here — love you Cajuns!)

One third of America’s oysters come from Louisiana where 1.6 million water acres have been set aside for oyster cultivation. Perhaps the process of pulling oysters up from the muddy seafloor seems less-than-appetizing, but believe me, the final product is divine and pure gourmet.

Last I might add, nothing beats eating them fresh from the sea.