Monday, February 15, 2010

The Scallop, not just delicious, and a Saint

The scallop is one of the few bivalves that actually swims. They do this by rapidly opening & closing their valves, sending the shell backward. Cute right? The muscle of the scallop is the part we eat. You must be careful when ordering/buying scallops that they are real and not shark. That's right, people actually use shark meat as a substitute for scallops. You should also buy dry rather than wet scallops because the wet ones are treated with chemicals.

Scallop shells have been featured in art, architecture, and religion throughout history. As we learned yesterday the scallop gained popularity with the ancient mythology of Aphrodite, who rose in birth from a scallop shell. Ancient Greeks used a stylized scallop as a shoulder clasp for their tunics. The scallop was the symbol of a christian pilgrim in medeaval times (see why below.) Today we all know the Shell Gasoline logo adn the scallop is also used on the coat of arms of Pope Benedict XVI.

An interesting Religious themed scallop legend:
Saint Augustine was once walking along the seashore, meditating on the unfathomable mystery of the Holy Trinity. A boy was using a shell to pour seawater into a little hole. When Augustine asked him what he was doing, he replied, "I am emptying the sea into this hole." Thus did Augustine understand that man would never penetrate to the depths of the mystery of God.

Another one:
St. James was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. James was one of only three apostles whom Jesus selected to bear witness to his Transfiguration. The scallop was the symbol of St.James and pilgrims to his shrine often wore that symbol on their hats or clothes (this was eventually adopted by all pilgrims.) The French for a scallop is coquille St. Jacques, which means "cockle of St James". The German word for a scallop is Jakobsmuschel, which means "mussel of St. James"; the Dutch word is Jacobsschelp, meaning "shell of St James".

These are all interesting things to think about the next time you see (eat) a scallop.

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