Colchester Oyster Ceremonies
Since 1196, when Richard I bestowed rights for the Colne Fishery near Colchester, business has been booming. Generations later, the same corporation still maintains control over the Fishery. Every September, the mayor and councilors open oyster-dredging season with great fanfare. A proclamation of 1256, declaring that “from time beyond which memory runneth not to the contrary” the rights have belonged to Colchester. The company then drinks a toast of gin and eats gingerbread, upon which the mayor lowers the first oyster-dredge thus opening the season.
On October 20, the famous Oyster Feast in Colchester is held at Moot Hall. The festival was a well-established custom by the 17th century, coinciding with the St. Dennis Fair dating from
1319. More than 400 people, often including the royal family, attend the feast, at which it has been reported more than 12,000 oysters have been consumed. This event is still held today in Colchester, Essex.
Recipe for One of my Favorites:
32 oysters, shucked
¾ cup clam juice
5 drops tabasco
Paprika to garnish
¾ cup cream
½ tsp. celery salt
6 Tbs. butter
Combine cream, clam juice, celery salt and tabasco in a sauce pan. Simmer over low heat. Do not boil. Bring water in the bottom of a double boiler to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. In the top part, melt butter and add the oysters, stirring with a wooden spoon to let them heat evenly until the edges curl. Pour the hot cream mixture into the oysters. Let the stew reach a simmer, do not boil. Ladle into four deep bowls and sprinkle with paprika. Serve immediately.