Oysters were not always a food deemed for the gods. Their widespread availability in France, England and the US deemed them to be the ‘commoner’s food’ as they were so easily scooped up. Largely, this trend was the same in India. Amrita Gupta’s podcast on the Food Radio Project speaks of a report written a hundred years ago by James Hornell, a marine biologist. In edible mollusks of the Madras presidency he wrote, “the better class of Indians do not appreciate oysters, and none would make use of this food supply among Hindus. Only the lower classes of shore dwellers eat oysters together with some Mohammedans and Indian Christians.” India’s fascination with oysters, or seep in Hindi, was simply limited to the pearl.
According to the podcast, oysters are the least common shell fish eaten in India, and it is the 1 rupee per piece of shucked meat that provides incentive for its consumption. This manner of eating oysters is completely bereft of the ceremony that they come plated on in the west. Today, India stands to be the 13th largest oyster producer world over - a long way to have come in only two decades.