Sunday, 21 April 2013

S is for Scallops...


A scallop is a marine bivalve mollusc of the family Pectinidae.
scallop -> noun 1. an edible bivalve mollusc with a ribbed fan-shaped shell. Scallops swim by rapidly opening and closing the shell-valves.
# short for SCALLOP SHELL
# a small pan or dish shaped like a scallop shell and used for baking or serving food
2. (usu. scallops) each of a series of convex rounded projections forming an ornamental edging cut in material or worked in lace or knitting in imiation of the edge of a scallop shell.
3. another term for ESCALOPE

-> verb (scallops, scalloping, scalloped)
1. [with obj] scalloped ornament (an edge or material) with scallops
# cut, shape or arrange in the form of a scallop shell
2. scalloping gather or dredge for scallops
3 bake with milk or a sauce: [as adj] scalloped

- DERIVATIVES scalloper noun
- ORIGIN Middle English: shortening of Old French escalope, probably of Germanic origin. The verb dates from the 18th century

(That's for those of us who like words, courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary of English)

For the biologists:

Scallops are hermaphrodites; capable of switching sexes. Both sexes produce roe, whose coloring depends upon the parent's (current) sex. Red roe is that of a female, and white, that of a male. 

After fertilisation scallop ova sink to the bottom of the sea. After several weeks, the immature scallop hatches and the larvae drift until settling to the bottom again to grow. They reach sexual maturity after several years, though they may not reach a commercially harvestable size until six to eight years of age. 

Scallops may live up to 18 years, with their age reflected in the annuli, the concentric rings of their shells.(Wikedpedia)

The environmental mayhem wrought by commercial scallop fishing is truly terrible.
Large boats dredge the sand, scraping up everything in their path, destroying countless communities of sea creatures, laying bare huge swathes of the seabed.

Here's a link to a video of one such dredge, courtesy of Greenpeace.
In addition to being so destructive, dredged scallops can spend anything up to two weeks languishing in the bottom of the boat before they even make it to terra firma and your dinner plate, during which time the flesh begins to deteriorate.

So read this interview with a scallop diver Tim Hunt and take heart

One fascinating fact about scallops is that they have many, many eyes...

The eyes are very tiny, and occur along the curved edges of the shell, just inside, about one eye per shell corrugation. Each eye is rather remarkably like a certain kind of reflecting telescope complete with a spherical mirror to reflect incoming light rays onto a retina, after being corrected for spherical aberration by passing through a lens
(From Everything 2)

Personally I'm bit of a shell-person and scallop shells are, to my thinking, The Epitome of A Sea-Shell. Keep your conches, wave away your winkle shells, lose those limpets, give me a scallop shell anyday.

I've used scallop shells as ashtrays, bead boxes, pin holders and, of course, serving plates for seafood dishes back in the 70's when we ate prawn cocktail on a bed of that nasty iceberg lettuce as a starter for quite a few of the dinner parties that we hosted. The main course was probably a veal scallop and scalloped potatoes and desert, a pie with a scalloped edge...

A useful chap the scallop, n'est-ce pas?

In Brittany folk eat a great many scallops, and the evidence of our own dining is to be found all around my house, since I can rarely bring myself to throw away such pretty shells.

I love wandering past a fish stall or into a fish shop to gaze in slightly-squeamish awe at the still-crawling crutaceans, the bound and gagged lobsters, the piles of scallops...

Seafood should be fresh, n'est-ce pas?

Here's how to clean a scallop:
An Illustrated Guide To Cleaning A Scallop
And here are some links to scallop recipes:
Fisherman's Express ('all wild and all natural') Cooking
Recipe Zaar

Enough already?
Ok, just one more, my favourite recipe, Scallop Bisque

Care to make an angel from scallop shells? Then look no further than this link

I'd post a picture of the blanket that I crocheted when I was 17 years old, if I hadn't lost it along the way. The stitches resembled scallop shells. Maybe I'll crochet another one one day soon...

What else can I tell you about scallops?

The scallop shell is often associated with the act of pilgrimage. It is said that this comes from the Way of St. James, also known as el Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Legend says that it is here that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.

The shell features a single point from which ribs radiate outwards, a symbol of pilgrimage. By tradition dating back to the 8th century pilgrims would bring back a scallop shell to prove that they'd completed the journey. This then developed into the symbol of pilgrimage

Something for the linguists...

In some languages the scallop shell is called the muscle of St. James.

The German word for scallop is "Jakobsmuschel".
The Swedish word for scallop literally translates to pilgrim mussel.
A French name for a dish containing scallops is coquille St. Jacques (in Québec, pétoncle is more commonly used).
The Dutch name is Jakobsschelp (James being English for Jacobus).
In Danish, ibskal refers to scallops worn by pilgrims from Santiago de Compostella (Ib being the Danish name for St. James)

My stone scallop shell was bought on my semi-pilgrimage last year to Mont St Michel and hangs on a wall as a souvenir of a special day

Once, on a trip to the coast to find a sawmill my then-partner and I stopped by a lake to take a walk with the Tibetans.

The lake is around 5kms from the sea.

As we walked amongst chestnut and pine trees something in the fallen leaves caught my eye.
It was a beautiful scallop shell.
Ever the forager I bent down to pick it up and in so doing I unearthed a veritable treasure-trove of scallop shells.

By the time that we'd finished digging we had filled a large carrier bag

We brought them home to sit in their bag and wait for me to clean them, drill a hole in each and string them up somewhere, they're still waiting....
I have no idea who left them or why they were there.
One of life's mysteries.

The scallop shell is also associated with the cult of Venus, as seen here in Botticelli's beautiful The Birth of Venus.

Surprisingly (and luckily for us) the painting escaped the flames of Savonarola's bonfires that reduced all such 'pagan works' (including many books) to ashes.

It obviously pays to have friends in high places and the Medici Family were very high indeed. Such a shame that the same Florentine family abandoned poor old Galileo to the wrath of the Catholic Church for daring to suggest that the earth revolves around the sun!
Blasphemy indeed!

Changing the subject, I read somewhere that the native Americans also made much use of scallop shells as ornaments and in their dancing. Obviously there are many other fans of this wonderful little creature

So, mes amis, I hope that you enjoyed my little scallop taster.
The Ragazza and I will be back in Brittany for our first visit of the year next month, a little later than I'd hoped but it will be May, it will be sunny, there will be fresh fish on which to feast, perhaps there will be scallops...

Meanwhile, here in Oxfordshire on a beautifully sunny Sunday morning, chapter six of my fledgling first novel, Flies in the Ointment, is waiting for me. And yes, the cover will, of course, include a scallop shell, amongst other things, it was writing a chapter in which my main character receives gifts of scallop shells from an anonymous admirer, that led me to write this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello! Your comments are welcome and appreciated