Though 18th-century satirist Jonathan Swift once wrote, "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster," this BIVALVE has been a culinary favorite for thousands of years. The hard, rough, gray shell contains a meat that can vary in color from creamy beige to pale gray, in flavor from salty to bland and in texture from tender to firm. There are both natural and cultivated oyster beds throughout the world. In the United States, there are three primary species of oysters that are commercially harvested-Pacific (or Japanese), Eastern (or Atlantic) and the Olympia. Each species is sold under different names depending on where they're harvested.