Oysters : Historically Not Just For The Wealthy

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Oysters: Historically Not Just for the Wealthy The oyster’s role has change many times throughout history; from the staple food of the Wampanoag Indians to the oyster saloons in New York, moving to the dining rooms of Boston all the way to San Francisco. It moved from a food item of sheer necessity to serendipity and, according to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2004), during the 1610 Jamestown food shortage, colonists traveled to the James Rivers to sustain themselves on the bounty of oysters. By the 1800s, it is deemed that the demand of oysters was so high that the Atlantic and Gulf coast beds began to deplete (Oxford Encyclopedia, 2004) but, that didn’t slow down their consumption. Oysters were consumed by all classes, at all times of the day and where available, all season long. Charles Mackay, an English traveler, wrote that "the rich consume oysters and Champagne; the poorer classes consume oysters and large bier, and that is one of the principal social differences between the two sections of the community" (Life and Liberty, 1859). No matter the social class or status, oysters were for everyone. Early Beginnings When you hear the word oysters, does it bring images of oysters on the half shell, or Oysters Rockefeller in a fine dining establishment on a special occasion. Or does the thought of spending upwards to $15 for 3 of those little delicacies make you stop and decide their not worth the trouble? Oysters were once a staple of choice,
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