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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Oyster (food)

Worldwide, around two billion pounds of oysters are eaten every year.


Stone Age man preferred oysters roasted to raw.

The Whaleback Shell Midden located on the east side of the Damariscotta River in Maine, United States contains the shells from oyster harvested for food dating from 2200-1000 years ago.

Oysters were farmed as long ago as 1381 in Northumberland, the north-east of England. It seems that the shrewd monks of Lindisfarne Priory bought a boatload of Oysters off an equally shrewd Scotsman for 100 shillings, and set up Oyster beds.

Casanova, the infamous 18th century Italian lover, believed in starting the day by eating 50 oysters.

Oysters were served to the public in America for the first time in 1763 when a primitive saloon opened in New York City in a basement in Broad Street.

By the 1880s Oysters were plentiful and cheap in North America. Over 150 million lbs of oyster a year were harvested and oystering supported large numbers of families. On the North Eastern coast seaboard, the wealthy flocked to eat in oyster houses. Other classes ate them up to three times a day at home or in oyster bars, oysters cellars, oyster houses, oyster parlours, oyster saloons, and oyster stalls. They were baked, fried, frittered, pickled, roasted, scalloped, stewed, skewed with bits of bacon, and used in puddings and soups.

As a teenager the author Jack London "worked" as a self-styled oyster-pirate, stealing oysters from oyster farms in San Francisco Bay and selling them at a marketplace in Oakland.

Oysters used to grow in huge oyster beds, but were "overfished" in the 19th century. Nowadays they are more expensive, so eaten less often.


The largest oyster-producing body of water in the United States is Chesapeake Bay,

The world record for opening oysters is 38 in a minute, set by Canadian Patrick McMurray in 2010.

The world record for eating oysters is 47 dozen in eight minutes set by American Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas  in 2012.

The old wives tale about only eating oysters in months with the letter R in them stems from the fact that they spawn in the summer months and taste better when taken from cold water.

Sources Daily Express, Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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