How about that Thanksgiving oyster?

Nov 26, 2015 | 3 comments

151124-thanksgiving-menus-08I took a little stroll (via cyberspace) down memory lane – looking at Thanksgiving menus of old. Really old, some of them, like back to the 1800s. Most featured turkey with all the trimmings and most also included oysters! The biggee, of course, was oyster stuffing, but oysters showed up in soup and stew and on the half-shell, as well.

Still… you don’t hear much about the Thanksgiving Oyster. Not even here in Oysterville. I think it’s probably because there is no wishbone with oysters. Pearls, maybe, but you can’t count on them. You canScreen-Shot-2015-11-26-at-7.03.06-AM always count on a wishbone with turkey. (Well, probably not, unless you are cooking it yourself. None of those hotel menus I saw offered a wishbone. Not even for a few dollars more.)

CUmbrVZUsAAx-6oIn our family, oysters don’t figure on the menu at all. And, I’m not just talking Thanksgiving here. We don’t often eat oysters in this house. I think it has to do with having to eat them in every way, shape, and form during the Depression. Of course, that was a bit before my time, but I do think there’s a sort of generational memory when it comes to food. When the hard times were over, my grandmother seldom served oysters, my mother seldom served oysters, and we serve them almost never.

It seems un-Oystervillian, somehow. Especially considering that old R.H. Espy, my own great-grandpa, helped get this place going because of oysters. But, in his defense, there probably weren’t a lot of wild turkeys roaming around in 1854…


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    I’ve seen salmon on historical Thanksgiving menus and I would love that. Maybe Christmas!

  2. Laurie Anderson

    It sounds to me like a tradition in need of revival. In 2016 we’ll celebrate the 120 Anniversary of The Shelburne Inn. We plan to add an 1890’s dinner to our schedule of events. I’d love to see the old menus you described! Are they in your possession or did you find them online?

    • sydney

      Online, Laurie. There are lots of them! What a great idea that is. (Just don’t use their cooking methods! You know… those yucky ‘gray vegetables’ from being cooked into tastelessness!) lol


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