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Dutch Imperial Oysters: A delicacy with a promising career in gastronomy

Picture a beautiful shellfish farm in a small village somewhere in the Dutch province Zeeland. Three brothers run a family business that opened its doors in 1906. They are the fourth generation to grow all kinds of shellfish. One product in particular seems to have inspired a number of dedicated fans in the culinary world: the flat Zeeland oyster.

Zeeland’s treasure

The flat Zeeland oyster has a round shape, hollow bottom and flat top shell. It is grown in De Grevelingen, the biggest salt-water lake in Europe. De Grevelingen became a protected area in 2003 and as a result, has become one of Europe’s cleanest and nutrient-rich areas. Though the lake seems to offer the perfect circumstances for the oysters to reproduce, they are still quite rare. The reason for this has been severe frost in 1963, which caused the vast majority to freeze to death. Right now, the oysters are slowly growing back but they have not quite reached the population that was there before the frost.

Reputation gastronomy

The oysters have a great reputation within the culinary world and this is for a good reason. With a growing process of at least five years it takes a long time to become market ready. But that is not the main reason behind their popularity: their subtle taste is what really makes them unique. It is described as a nutty flavor followed by a long after taste. According to experts, this unique taste is the result of the fine aromas of algae and the many hours of sunshine that Zeeland has to offer. Their Dutch Imperial brand is based on a special selection of the flat oysters. Only the oysters with the perfect shape and right amount of flesh are approved for sale under then brands name. Every day the brothers take care of the oysters and relocate or harvest their tiny treasures. When the job is done, they want to ensure that they are consumed in the best possible way. Therefore, to ensure the authentic taste, they advise to eat the oysters raw and not to grill them.

Popularity

The export is growing, and more countries are interested in this luxurious oyster. Neighboring countries such as Germany, Belgium and France have been importing them for years. But recently demand has increased from countries from other continents such as Asia. Quite an achievement for the brothers!

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