An Oyster Cellar in Leith, John Burnet, 1819
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
Oh oysters, oh oysters, oh oysters,” said she, I’ve got some of the finest oysters that ever you did see." ~The Oyster Girl, Traditional
It was once assumed that oysters were only safe to eat in months with the letter 'r' in their English and French names. This myth is based in truth, in that in the Northern Hemisphere, oysters are much more likely to spoil in the warmer months of May, June, July, and August.
Oyster Day is a celebration of this versatile mollusk. Oyster is the common name for a number of different groups of bivalve mollusks. Some species of oysters are commonly eaten, either cooked or raw, as a delicacy. While other types of oyster, such as pearl oysters, are not normally consumed by humans, they are harvested for their pearls.
Heaps of oyster remains (middens) testify to the prehistoric importance of oysters as food, with some middens in New South Wales, Australia dated at ten thousand years.
Interestingly, Oyster Day is celebrated in August, a month "without an 'R', flaunting an old adage to not east oysters from May to August, warmer months where spoilage may occur. This adage holds true in both English and French.
Shellfish in general can be problematic in the summer for several reasons. The first has to do with red tides, vast blooms of algae that collect along coastlines, usually in warm weather. They can spread toxins that are soaked up by oysters, clams and mussels. Enjoy your oysters safely, and dance "The Oyster Girl" in any month!
Click "The Oyster Girl" by Karl Gussow, 1882, for a modern take on "Oysters Rockerfeller" recipe.