Apalachicola: Day 1a

Apalachicola is a small town (population 2,231 in 2010) on the Florida panhandle on the eponymous bay, part of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s famous for fishing, oysters, and tupelo honey. Here’s where it is:

It’s a beautiful town with many old houses. I haven’t yet photographed a lot of them, but here’s one, and you can see more photos here.

A local park near the water:

As I noted yesterday, Apalachicola oysters are justifiably famous.

Every restaurant in town, it seems, sells some version of oysters: raw oysters, fried oysters, sauteed oysters, oyster stew, and oyster po-boys (sandwiches). There are several processing plants. Here’s an oyster-washing machine in one of them:

Detritus from the oyster plant. I’m told the shells are crushed and used to line driveways:

A beautiful brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), one of my favorite birds. It was fearless, holding court on a pier right downtown:

The same bird, recumbent. It’s quite streamlined.

Ready for its close up:

Laughing gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla) on the same pier:

The seafood here is the best: absolutely fresh and caught either the same day or the previous evening. I bought some jumbo shrimp and flounders that were cooked for dinner last night.

The ultimate and classic oxymoron:

Our dinner: sauteed flounder on a bed of vegetables and jumbo shrimp in a spicy seafood broth. Thanks to John and Carolyn for doing the cooking (I cleaned and chopped the green beans):

This shrimp boat (note the big nets used to catch schools) was moored right outside the seafood store, a guarantee of freshness:

Breakfast at a famous local spot, Caroline’s Dining on the River. I had fried eggs (they brought me scrambled, but when I pointed it out they added two free fried eggs), grits (must be eaten with fried eggs, not scrambled), a Southern biscuit, and two absolutely splendid “oyster cakes,” like crabcakes but made with oysters. A local breakfast, delicious and filling.

After breakfast, we all went fishing for six hours or so, and had a wonderful trip. That will be Day 1b of my visit, to be documented tomorrow (I hope).

Addendum: For those foreigners who were astounded that America does harbor a chain of supermarkets called “Piggly Wiggly“, here’s proof. And inside was an iconic item of American Southern food (though the original Moon Pie was chocolate-covered cookies sandwiching a marshmallow filling). If you know a bit about the American South, you’ll know that a Moon Pie washed down with an RC Cola was considered the classic lunch for the working poor.


  1. Posted April 15, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Lovely shots, especially of the Laughing Gulls. Their breeding plumage is stunning!

  2. Liz
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    The birds are beautiful.

  3. Barry Lyons
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m a seafood nut and would love to try those oyster cakes!

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I think the price on the shrimp is lower and fresher than we can get here. All that transportation you know. Not surprised about the use of the claim shells. I remember in places like Guam they used corral in the roads.

  5. jaxkayaker
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I like the banana moon pie with a Yoo-Hoo to wash it down.

  6. jaxkayaker
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    By the way, welcome to Florida, Jerry!

    Right up the road from you is one of the best birdwatching spots, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

  7. Andrea Kenner
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    RC Cola and a Moon Pie — NRBQ

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 15, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Not Available [UK geoblocking?] so here’s another version I can see:

  8. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Scrumptious! The recumbent pelican is very striking. I would of course be looking for bugs in this tropical paradise.

  9. barbara Anderson
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Do try the fried shrimp at the Apalachicola Grill. Superb. Also their pecan pie..

  10. Larry Smith
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Lovely travelogue!

  11. Posted April 15, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for allowing me to live vicariously through your shared posts, Jerry. The food looks great! Could eat some fresh oysters …
    all I’ve got on hand are smoked ones.

  12. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Cousin Vinny & courtroom magic grits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T24lHnB7N8

  13. jaxkayaker
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of tupelo honey

    • Liz
      Posted April 15, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes. I was thinking of this also.

  14. Posted April 15, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    “Jumbo Shrimp”
    Also known as Anomalocaris

  15. David Duncan
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    “Breakfast at a famous local spot, Caroline’s Dining on the River.”

    I’ll have “The Carpetbagger” please.

  16. Mark R.
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I bet your happy to be in sunny Florida instead of cold Chicago.

    I’m curious as to what they use as an oyster-shooter dipping sauce?
    lemon/Tabasco (my favorite)
    black pepper mignonette
    tarragon mignonette
    cocktail sauce (yuck)
    something local?

    • Mark R.
      Posted April 15, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink


    • Posted April 15, 2018 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      They gave us lemons, horseradish, catsup,and crackers. I would sometimes have a squeeze of lemon, and sometimes a cracker with horseradish and catsup after I had an oyster, but I prefer them desnudo best of all.

      • Posted April 16, 2018 at 5:09 am | Permalink

        Is catsup the same as ketchup?

        • Posted April 16, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          I think that’s a regionally variable thing. In that part of the US, I have no idea.

      • Mark R.
        Posted April 16, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        When they’re fresh, naked is the best.

  17. Chuck Gordon
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    The flounder and shrimp dish looks amazing. But as for your breakfast, why do you say the grits must be eaten with fried, not scrambled, eggs? The proper way to eat them is mixed up together with scrambled eggs, along with a little butter and salt or cheese.

    • Posted April 15, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      No, the proper way to eat them is to break up an egg over easy, and mix the yolk and white bits with the grits.

      • Sshort
        Posted April 15, 2018 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        Yes. The same way we do cowboy-style chili for beakfast out west. Fine start to a day with black coffee.

        Though I do love grits as well, especially “fully-loaded” with cheddar cheese, bacon and scallions mixed in. And tabasco or salsa.

        • Sshort
          Posted April 15, 2018 at 10:14 pm | Permalink


          I think Dr. Freud slipped me the bird there.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted April 16, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

        A friend of mine from central PA, where they eat their grits with pig trimmings, sage & thyme and call it scrapple [a word that Spellcheck seems not to recognize], was on vacation with the family down in Alabama and stopped @ a diner for breakfast. Orders bacon & eggs. “You want grits with that?” “Uh, no grits.” The food arrives with grits. “Oh, we didn’t want grits.” “Honey, you gets grits whether you wants them or not.”

  18. Marta
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    I got my first speeding ticket in Apalach. Got another one a month later up the road 20 miles or so in Port St. Joe.

    Back in the day, Apalachicola was pretty sleepy, but even then it was known for its oysters.

  19. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Piggly Wiggly is mentioned several times in the stage play and movie “Driving Miss Daisy”

    • Posted April 16, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Hm, must have missed that. Of course, I’ve only seen it in French dub (don’t ask).

  20. Posted April 15, 2018 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    My dad did his Basic in Fort Walton Beach.

  21. gormenghastly
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    I love your food pictures but tragically in every case I have to remind myself that I couldn’t eat whatever delicious spread you are portraying. How does a severe coeliac get on eating in America?

  22. Posted April 16, 2018 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    Your breakfast gets my mouth watering. I could eat it any time of day! Thanks!

  23. Hempenstein
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    I approve of that house! Noms, too, of course.

  24. Tom Webber
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    The Panhandle also has a Hogly Wogly.

  25. darrelle
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Perhaps my favorite way to eat oysters, raw on the half shell (lightly steamed if you must) with a dollop each of minced shallot, black caviar, sour cream and finished with a splash of vodka. Yummy. Many places serve them similarly, but without the vodka, and call them “dirty” oysters. But the vodka is a must for this dish to work the way it is supposed to.

  26. Posted April 16, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Spicy broth: what spices are used locally?

  27. Diane G.
    Posted April 17, 2018 at 1:35 am | Permalink


    Also, nice birds!

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