MAN and SHELLS: Molluscs in the History

Food for Man: Cooked and Raw

Author(s): Riccardo Cattaneo-Vietti, Mauro Doneddu and Egidio Trainito

Pp: 189-209 (21)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681082257116010014

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


At the dawn of civilization, Man was an active consumer of bivalve. Fishing is in fact one of the most ancient human activities and it is easy to imagine that the Palaeolithic man, arriving to the coast, quickly learned to recognize and appreciate limpets, mussels, clams, oysters, and other edible shellfish, easily to find along the shore.

The numerous shells, and not just marine, which are found today in heaps of waste(kitchen middens), leftovers of prehistoric dinners, emphasize the importance of shellfish as a food source for humans.

Virtually, all shellfish are edible and for many centuries were a tasty source of cheap food.

The oysters are certainly the “queen of shellfish”: their taste, delicate or strong, varies depending on the different species, the area and quality of the waters. Also mussels are great "sea food": more humble than oysters, are very tasty. Moreover, scallops are much appreciated all over the world, and represent one of the main food products everywhere, especially in cold temperate zones. In addition, in many parts of the world, several bivalves, such as clams, cockles, razor clams and donacids are sought afterand appreciated.

Some gastropods are very popular in the kitchen of different people, and abalones, muricids, and winkles are very much appreciated. Cuttlefish and squid are also important sources of food in some regions and could become one of the main sources of protein in the coming decades.

Keywords: Abalones, belon du belon, clams, clam-bake, cockles, Crassostrea, cuttlefish, donacids, embractum baianum, gastronomy, geoduck, gros blanc of Burgundy, Helix, Japanese oyster, kitchen middens, Mercenaria, molluscs, muri-cids, oyster, Ostrea, quahog, Perna, Portuguese oyster, razor clams, shell heaps, snail, squid, Tapes.

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