“Yay We Have Oysters!” says an early-September chalkboard sign at The Fisherman’s Wife in the sleepy village of Carrabelle. Pam Lycett, who really is a fisherman’s wife (hubby was out on his shrimp boat when we stopped in), runs a gracious little cafe with pastel-colored walls, slow-spinning overhead fans, and a sound-dampening rug on the floor. There is no throbbing music or raucous conversation in this peaceful place, which is so right for contemplating seafood presented the way locals like it: simple, direct, and utterly fresh.
The oyster po boy is formidable, arriving splayed open on the plate, too large and overflowing to pick up and eat like a sandwich. Oh, what fun it is to gleefully pluck at it, oyster by oyster, savoring the warm luxury of sweet, briny meat and zesty crust, occasionally punctuating the melty-crunchy ecstasy by forking up the sandwich’s lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo, along with pinches of good bread. Crabcakes are only slightly devilish, peppered enough to halo the sweet, moist meat. Notable main-course companions include fried green tomatoes in a veil of see-through crust and crisp-surfaced hushpuppies the size of extra-large eggs.
“Miss Pam just brought in a Key lime pie today,” the waitress advises. “It’s the only one we have. No Derby and no buttermilk pie.” That’s fine because the Key lime is a perfect triumvirate of sweet, cream, and citrus twang – a modest wedge, pale yellow with a thin crust and no adornment whatsoever. The classic cannot be improved.