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A Brief History Of… Oysters

September 2018Words by Ms Miranda York

Illustration by Mr Paul Hempstead

“An oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life,” begins Consider The Oyster, Ms MFK Fisher’s ode to her favourite mollusc. “Indeed, his chance to live at all is slim.” As Ms Fisher goes on to explain, if an oyster survives its early days of roaming as a young spat, drawn far and wide by ocean currents, it will attach itself to the first clean, hard object it bumps into. And then, if it isn’t eaten by a bird or a starfish or some other creature from the deep, it will undoubtedly be eaten by man.

We have been eating oysters since the beginning of our existence, and so their history is as rich and diverse as our own. With the start of British native season upon us, let us sift through the centuries for a pearl or two… 

Neolithic period