A raw oyster with lemon
Things You Might Not Have Known About Oysters
Humans have been eating oysters for around 164,000 years, as evidenced by the discovery of their shells alongside primitive tools in a seaside cave in South Africa.
Long History
Back then, these early Homo sapiens lived in caves by the sea, procured seafood systematically, and were capable of symbolic expression, as seen in their red ochre cave drawings.
Oyster shells found in early human settlements were unbroken but bore scorch marks, suggesting they were cooked over open fires or embers until they popped open.
Eaten Cooked
Opening a raw oyster takes finesse and a strong, sharp knife, which early humans did not have. Cooking the oysters over open fires would have made them easier to access and eat.
Heaps of spent oyster shells suggest that oysters were a dietary staple for early people in coastal areas, providing essential nutrients and being easy to procure.
Dietary Staple
Known as oyster middens, the heaps are up to 25 feet high and are considered geological features. Their existence reveals the large quantity of oysters consumed by early humans.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, oysters were considered a working-class food and were so readily available that bars served them as they would chips today.
Working Class
Since then, overfishing has reduced the oyster populations and pollution has damaged their watery habitats. These two factors have made oysters scarce and therefore more expensive.
Oysters Rockefeller are cooked oysters topped with a rich spinach sauce. The dish was originally inspired by the classic French garlic-and-herb escargot filling.
Invented by chef Jules Alciatore at Antoine's in New Orleans, the original recipe was kept secret, leaving chefs to create their own versions and using spinach in place of parsley.