The Everyday Lore Project

5 August 2020 – Old St James’s Day

5 August 2020 – Old St James’s Day

Every time I burp, all I can taste is seaweed. And given my vegan oysters Rockefeller are repeating on me something terrible, I’m guessing the taste is going to be around for quite a while longer.

It’s Old St James’s Day. New St James’s Day was on 25 July, I made a grotto. More about that later. Both days are associated with the start of the oyster season, but it’s thought today more so than the other one because oysters don’t really start until August, despite there being no R in the month, it’s all a bit fuzzy. Anyhow, I think the real giveaway is that another name for today is Oyster Day.

Anyhow the proverb that accompanies both dates 

He who eats oysters on St James’ Day will never want

caught my eye. Before turning to the dark side, I was known for stuffing all sorts down my gullet; liver, chicken feet, octopus, New York hot dogs, cheese spray, but never oysters. Snot in a shell never appealed. But unwilling to let an opportunity to be blessed by good luck slip by just because I’m neither a he nor up for eating actual oysters, I decided to improvise. I found a recipe for vegan oysters Rockefeller. Whatever they are. 

First off, I couldn’t be arsed to craft pastry shells out of aquafaba so I got a sheet of readymade puff and rolled in some of the seasoning from the recipe. But for some reason despite having just stared at a heap of them online, I decided that oyster shells were leaf shape. They’re not. And then I forgot to prick them so they swelled up, in a very un-shell-like manner, and were too cooked to bend back into shape. 

Next was the crumb. All very straight forward, except I doubled the garlic as my cloves were tiny, and I wasn’t paying attention and it caught slightly. And I added a lot of cayenne. And I probably should have de-stalked the spinach, or at least given it more than a cursory chop. 

I didn’t think the aubergine was going to work at all. But it did. 

My presentation skills continue to sorely lack. But at last I’ve found a use for my fish shaped chopping board.

Eating them, it was a very weird texture sensation. Top lip was all about the crumble, bottom lip was all about the crunch, and then the aubergine kind of slithered on in. Each component tasted okay separately, but they worked so much better together. Which was handy as I hadn’t cooked anything else for tea. I have no idea how they compare to the real thing, but I do know they didn’t touch the sides. Fingers crossed for that luck then.

Grotto Update: It’s almost dry, it scarcely lists, and only one shell fell off. The whelk shell is detachable, not for the storage of cocktail sticks, but so I can lodge in a tea light should the need arise. I’m thinking of G-jazzling it, as traditional ones were often made out of bits of china, beads, broken glass and the like.

What do you reckon? A rhinestone grotter? 

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

2 comments on “5 August 2020 – Old St James’s Day”

  1. Susannah says:

    They look yummy Liza!

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