NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Ben “Moody” Harney didn’t always like oysters.
“I thought they were disgusting,” he said.READ MORE: Source of Knowledge: A Newark Bookstore Honors African Ancestry
But that changed when he tried his first Canadian oyster from Prince Edward Island. The glacial, mineral flavor opened his eyes to what a raw oyster could be.
From that point, he was hooked.
He sources northern oysters from places like Blue Point, Long Island, and he tops them with fresh garnishes like parsley and shallot.
Moody loves oysters not only for their flavor but also for their sustainability: Oysters filter up to 50 gallons of water a day.
“It’s one of the only foods that we have that’s an actual solution as opposed to an alternative,” he said.
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A native of Crown Heights, Moody also appreciates the local significance of the oyster.
“Such a huge foundation to New York history is the oyster culture part,” he said.
He is one of many Black New Yorkers who have shaped the culture for centuries. Figures like Thomas Downing, an abolitionist known as “the oyster king,” played key roles in the booming oyster economy of the 1800s.
This history is intrinsic to Moody’s passion for the oyster. He also appreciates sharing oysters with first-timers who, like him, didn’t grow up eating them.
“Nobody from my culture that I knew liked them and had no introduction to them,” he said. “That’s where my part comes in, getting my culture, getting a culture excited about eating them.”
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