What is a Fireplace Oyster?

August 19, 2015

Sorry – can't seem to get enough of this January 1951 issue of Gourmet.  There's a delight – and a riddle – on every page.

Consider, for example, this ad for "fireplace oysters" from the "oldest oyster cultivators in U.S.A."  I hoped that the J & JW Elsworth Company was still cultivating their oysters, but the only oystermen I could find in Greenport Long Island were Little Creek Oyster and Widow's Hole.  Neither, sadly, offer "fireplace oysters." I did discover that Fireplace Oysters were served at the Plaza Hotel in 1951 – presumably from the Elsworths.  But I could not find a single other reference to this particular creature.  If anybody has any information on them, I'm curious. 



Then there was this interesting ad for a "yogurt incubator"; who knew Americans were making their own yogurt in 1951?


And finally, a recipe I find hilarious for so many reasons.  Dating from a time when skinless, boneless chicken parts were not a supermarket staple, a time when white bread stood in for rice, it's hard to imagine that this simple dish was actually served in a restaurant. Should you be wondering about that "Key Sauce," it's nothing other than a Pakistani brand of soy sauce.  (My guess is that it's made mostly from water, sugar and caramel coloring, but I couldn't find a picture of the back of the bottle.)

And then, just for fun, an interesting remedy for ailing cats.






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  • Oh please don’t apologize for another “ancient” Gourmet recipe – I’m finding them fascinating!

  • widowshole says:

    I recall an old bayman mentioning Ellsworth’s brand. He said it was named after some chimneys on the Springs, near one of Elsworth’s many oyster beds. There were many brick factories on the East End that have long been abandoned and it’s not uncommon to see the remaining chimneys and kilns.


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