Amazingly, at one time, Oysters were a whopping six to eight inches and though enormous in size, people devoured them by the dozen. Just as popular as they were big, Back in the Day, people used to throw actual Oyster Feasts. The Lincolns, when living in Illinois, were notorious for throwing such festive affairs. Everything on the menu was made with the King of all ingredients too – Oysters. And I’m talkin’ everything. Oysters were broiled, deviled, baked, curried, fricasseed, panned, seared, scalloped, pickled, stewed, steamed, thrown in pies, omelets, fritters and even Ketchup!
Oysters were recorded as being eaten as far back as Rome. A special kind of beer was brewed to go right along with them. Even the Irish enjoyed a Pint enhanced only by Oysters.
In the 19th Century, they were enjoyed by the working class because they were so cheap. Too bad the same cant be said for present times. Unfortunately, we have done our damage cultivating them, too. Oysters are one of many things undergoing steps of restoration and recovery.
Published in 1877, Housekeeping in Old Virginia, offered such a tip:
To fatten up Oysters, mix one part salt with thirty pints of water. Place Oysters mouth side up in something that will not leak—such as a clean tub. Feed them the mixture – but how? Take a broom and brush it past their mouths causing them to open and drink of the brine.
Scalloped Oysters (Serves 4)
- 1 pint of Oysters
- 1/4 cup Oyster Liquor
- 2 Tablespoons of Light Cream
- 1/2 cup of day old bread crumbs
- 1 cup of cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup of melted butter
- Fresh Ground Pepper
- Combine Oyster Liquor and cream. Sit to the side.
- Mix both kinds of crumbs together with the melted butter and sprinkle a thin layer on the bottom of a buttered 1 quart casserole.
- Cover with half of the oysters with half of the Liquor and cream mixture and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.
- Cover with a second layer of crumbs, remaining oysters, Liquor and Cream, salt and pepper.
- Finish off the dish with the last of the crumbs, salt and pepper and paprika.
- Note: Never make more than two layers of oysters in a scallop or the middle will remain uncooked.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven 425 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.