"On examining a lobster with a little attention," says Professor Jones,* " it will be seen that its head is furnished with four antennae.
......Its eyes are compound like those of an insect, and are supported upon a pair of moveable pedicles. There are five pairs of jointed limbs placed on each side of the mouth, which are evidently adapted to assist in seizing and conveying if to the mouth the substances used as food." (These organs are termed " foot-jaws.") "The pair of legs which comes next are developed to a size far surpassing that of the other limbs, and are endowed with proportionate strength." Each leg or claw ends in a pair of strong pincers, but they differ in their structure and uses. One claw is armed with sharp teeth; the other has the opposed edges of its terminal forceps provided with large blunt tubercles. One is used as an anchor; the other for tearing and dividing the creature's prey. Then follow behind the claws four pairs of slender legs, but they are not much used for locomotion; that is chiefly effected by the tail, which terminates in a fin formed of broad plates, so arranged that while they will close together during the extension of the tail, and thus present the least possible surface to the water, they are brought out to their full expansion by its down-stroke; and such is the impulse thus given that a lobster will dart backwards to a distance of twenty or thirty feet by one sweep of this remarkable locomotive instrument." Lobsters are caught in wicker baskets called pots.
They change their shells every year, and during their moulting remain concealed in the deepest recesses of the rocks. They are in season when oysters are out of season, in the summer; in winter male lobsters only are in good condition. The hen lobster may be known by her coral spawn, which is used for garnishing turbot, and for sauce.
* "The Animal Creation".
If a lobster is stale the tail hangs limp, while if fresh it is drawn under the fish, and if pulled out will spring back again when it is let go. The quality of the lobster is judged by its weight; a light lobster is not a good one. Price averages from 2s. 6d. to 6d. each, according to size and abundance.
Crabs, also, are to be judged by their weight and stiffness. Light and limp they are bad.
Oysters are in season from August to May. They are divided into natives and common oysters; the former being fattened in beds. The mid-sea oysters are dredged for, and are large and coarse. Oysters, if fresh, will close forcibly on the knife when opened. If the shell gapes the least bit the oyster is losing its freshness.
Receipt 100years old..
Rub over the bottom and sides of a silver or any other chafing dish a little butter; lay some oysters in it, strew over them a little pepper and minced parsley; then put to them half a glass of champagne, cover them with slices of butter cut very thin; strew grated bread over; put a cover over the dish, and set them cooking, with fire over and under, until they are a fine brown; then take off all the fat, wipe the rim of the dish, and serve hot. This may be done in an oven instead.