New Orleans’ appetite for oysters has remained insatiable since the foundation of the city in 1718 in more than one way. Residents and visitors have for centuries have enjoyed oysters a la natural on the half shell as well as the memorable shellfish dishes created at Galatoire’s, Antoine’s and Arnaud’s (to name but a few).
But New Orleans’ devotion to the oyster goes beyond the dinner plate. In fact, it extends to the very foundation of the City in the form of tabby concrete.
Tabby concrete is created by crushing and burning oyster shells in produce quicklime. The quicklime was then “slaked” or hydrated, combined with additional shells, sand and water and finally poured or tamped into wood forms called “cradles”.
The resulting bricks were used throughout historic New Orleans. Once positioned, the rough surface was smoothed over with plastic and painted, creating the traditional image of New Orleans known worldwide.
But the value of these oyster shells goes deeper than beautiful walls. They protect the city. Just as the “middens” or discarded shell piles had acted as natural barriers for the regional Native Americans for hundreds of years, so the shell-built homes of New Orleans protected their residents.
Oysters shells are still valued for the protection they provided. That is why Taylor Shellfish Farms recycles all their shells, helping to saving the sea while providing chefs with America’s best oysters year round