This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
" The man had sure a palate covered o'er With brass or steel, that on the rocky shore First broke the oozy oyster's pearly coat, And risked the living morsel down his throat." "An oyster, sir, is one of the elements of social existence, a delicacy of no age, sex, or condition, but patent to the universal family of man. Good in a scallop, better in a stew, best of all in the shell; good in pickle, in curry, in sauce; good at luncheon, before dinner, at supper; good to entertain a friend; good to eat by yourself; good when you are hungry; good, moreover, when you are not." - "The Greeks, who were the most aesthetical of feeders, had them opened at table, and ate them 'out of hand.' They knew as well as we do that to lay an oyster on a dish, no matter for how short a time, diminished its piq. uancy. Always insist on one point - that the dainty morsel is opened on the deep shell, so as to preserve every drop of the liquor. This done, the American asks only crackers, butter, a slice of lemon, and the pepper cruet. The Englishman would put aside the lemon and crackers, and ask for brown bread and a few blades of crisp white celery.
As regards the size of oysters, I take it that those are best which need no cutting; two bites to an oyster is as inadmissible as two bites to a cherry." - "An oyster dinner was given in Baltimore the other night, and only oysters were served in eight courses, beginning with raw and ending with a pudding of oysters, crabs and chopped celery that is said to have been very nice".
"The reason why oysters are procurable in London all the year round is, that certain varieties, when transferred from their original native homes to artificial beds, are so disturbed that they cease to breed, and are consequently fit for consumption at anytime".
"One of its most remarkable features appears to be the peculiar process adopted for ' forcing.' This consists in placing the young oysters into so-called 'ambulances,' that is, boxes with wooden sides and tops and bottoms covered with galvanized wire, the boxes being fixed about a quarter of a yard above the ground. The oysters in these boxes grow, we are told, about twice as rapidly as others which are merely placed in the 'beds'.
"In some of the lower counties, down the Chesapeake Bay, oysters pass as current money, and in one town which boasts of a weekly newspaper a large percentage of its readers pay their subscriptions to it in oysters; thus the editor receives from 150 to 200 bushels of oysters yearly, which he is forced to consume in his own family, and, as oysters are declared by the faculty to be most efficacious in producing and increasing brain power, it is to be hoped that the subscribers to that journal get good value for their oysters".
"Pickled oysters, which years ago were a standard dish at receptions and parties, and then were neglected, have come into gastronomic fashion again".