Shell spiral, solid; whorls six or seven in number, covered with longitudinal stria?; apex very pointed; aperture nearly round and large; pillar lip flat, broad, and white; outer lip sharp, sometimes white and occasionally showing the colour of the exterior of the shell through. Interior of the shell a dark brown. Operculum dark horn-colour.
In Anglo-Saxon, the periwinkle is called Sea-snœgl, or Sea-snail; in Ireland, the Horse-winkle and Shelli-raidy forragy, and at Belfast, Whelks; in Cornwall, Gwean, or Guihan; and in the north, Corvins; and the French give it the name of Sabot, or wooden shoe, as well as Vignot or Vignette, and Bigorneau. In Brittany it is called, as elsewhere observed, Vrelin, or Brelin;* and the Spanish name for it is Minchas. Few persons who have paid a visit to the seaside can have failed to remark this common shell, which, at low tide, may be seen crawling over the tangled masses of seaweed. Many pleasant hours do children pass in gathering basketfuls of periwinkles, taking them home and boiling them, and enjoying a hearty meal, with the accompaniment of good thick slices of bread-and-butter.
* 'Exploracion Cientifica de las Costas del Ferrol,' M. de la P. Graells.
Litorina litorea. Periwinkle.
Periwinkles vary much in colour, some being of a dark olive-green, nearly black, or of a pale greenish-white, like the specimen figured; and others red or rufous-brown, with narrow bands of smoke colour. Varieties of form also occur, and I procured from Ex mouth two curious specimens, with the whorls angular and the edges sharp, instead of rounded.
Athenaeus, in his 'Deipnosophists,' mentions several kinds of periwinkles. He says, uOf the periwinkle, the white are the most tender, and they have no disagreeable smell, .... but of the black and red kinds the larger are exceedingly palatable, especially those that are caught in the spring. As a general rule all of them are good for the stomach, and digestible when eaten with cinnamon and pepper".
There is a large consumption of these little mollusks in London; and Billingsgate market is supplied from various parts of the British coast; the largest supply is in May and June, and they sell at one shilling a measure. Mr. Patterson, of Belfast, states, in his 'Introduction to Zoology,' that quantities of periwinkles are annually shipped from Belfast for London, and in 1861 the amount was 3394 bags, each containing about 3 bushels, and weighing 3 1/2 cwt., so that the periwinkles exported in that year exceeded 10,000 bushels, and weighed nearly 600 tons.
* 'British Conchology,' vol. iii. p. 371.
There are extensive periwinkle grounds at the mouth of Pagham Harbour, which are visited every low tide by women and children, who gather large quantities, and send them to Brighton and Worthing, and they are sold at 8d. per gallon. The Mersey flats supply good periwinkles.
In the Orkneys, at Stromness, I am told that they are collected in sacks, and sent south to the different markets. Professor Simmonds states that the annual consumption of periwinkles in London, in 1858, was estimated at 76,000 baskets, weighing 1900 tons, and valued at £15,000; further, that the inhabitants of Kerara, near Oban, gather them, and get sixpence a bushel for collecting them, and forward them from Oban to Glasgow, thence to Liverpool, en route for London. About thirty tons are sent up to London from Glasgow. Mr. A. Morton tells me that in Jersey the market is supplied with periwinkles brought from Southampton, those found in the island being very small; and occasionally a few pints of the Trochus appear in the market, and are sold as winkles. Trochus zizyphinus, and Trochus cinerarius, are said by M. le Doc-teur Ozenne to be eaten at Toulon, and on the coast of La Manche, and from experience I can recommend the common Trochus crassus, simply boiled and eaten as periwinkles, the flavour resembling the latter, and being quite as sweet and palatable. In Spain the name for the latter is Caricoles franciscanos, and Minchas.
Both Trochidœ and Aporrhais pes-pelecani are sold in the market at Palma, Majorca, for eating purposes; and in Italy the latter is also eaten, and is known at Venice and at Trieste, by the name of Zamarugola.*
The Chinese are very partial to sea-snails, and we read in a description given of a Chinese dinner, that the second course consisted of a ragoût made of them. At Macao, these sea-snails are white, but at Ningpo they are green, viscous, and slippery, and by no means easy to pick up with chop-sticks. Their taste resembles the green fat of the turtle. It is curious that the most abundant shell found in the Scotch kjökken-möddings is the periwinkle, and it is also met with in great numbers in the Danish shell-mounds.