By Fred Garth
Tallahassee may be Florida’s capital city and home to the proud Florida State University Seminoles but it’s no Apalachicola. After I’d spent a full day of touring the Department of Agriculture’s laboratories and battling traffic with co-eds and reckless governmental types, I was ready for a coastal sunset, a couple dozen oysters, and some cold adult beverages. Only 90 minutes south was Apalachicola, a town that literally runs on oysters. Some 90 percent of Florida’s oyster exports come from Apalach and tourists drop in from all over the world to scarf down the slippery bi-valves. The entire job market has some kind of oyster connection. Even the newspaper’s logo, the Apalachicola Times, depicts an oysterman working in the bay with his giant tongs. It’s a little bit freaky that an entire community and economy lives or dies on a single species of shellfish. It goes without saying, they take their oysters seriously. So do I.
I’ve always loved Apalachicola, not just because they have the best oysters in the world (in my humble opinion) but it’s just a cool little waterfront town. When folks give directions, they start with, “turn left at the stop light.” And they mean THE stop light. There’s only one in town. And while most of our cities have been gobbled up with Wal-Mart-mania, Apalachicola’s biggest shopping “complex” is still the Piggly Wiggle grocery store. The downtown is sprinkled with a few small hotels, B&Bs, art galleries, nautical stores, and enough for about a day and a half of leisurely window shopping. Oh, and by the way, it just happens to have some of the best sport fishing around – from massive Tarpon runs in the summer to red fish, to speckled trout, to you name it. For me, Apalach is kind of like fried chicken: if you don’t like it, there’s something’s bad wrong with you.