Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) is quoted as having said, “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster”, but signs of oyster consumption go back into prehistory, evidenced by oyster middens found worldwide.
|Oysters on a bed of ice, served with lemon and
Those Roman invaders knew of at least two of our native oyster beds found in Kent and Essex: Whitstable Oysters and Colchester Natives ...
|Whitstable Oyster Festival
The Romans and Greeks were well known for the consumption of excessive numbers of these sea animals, and went to great lengths and expense to have them readily available for their emperors.
In the late 1700s and into the 19th century oysters were cheap and mainly eaten by the working class ... as the beds became overfished ... they became more and more part of the rich man’s diet ...
“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”
The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head –
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat –
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more –
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter ....
See link below for rest of poem:
|Recipe for Oyster Loaves from
Elizabeth Raffald's book (1733-1781):
"The Experienced English Housekeeper"
We shall finish off with the Walrus and Carpenter’s recipe ...
“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and Vinegar besides
Are very good indeed –
Now if you’re ready oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”
To put oysters into their true context (perhaps?!) ... here is Harold Nicolson’s quote from his 1942 book ‘Food' ... "The man who doesn’t like oysters, the woman who cannot abide sardines. We know the type.”
That is O for Oyster from Aspects of British Cookery
Jabberwocky - here's the full poem
Elizabeth Raffald - Wiki entry
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