asakiyume: (holy carp)
[personal profile] asakiyume
When I was telling my father about the fish elevator and all those shad, he told me that he'd learned from a friend that mountain laurel, which blooms around now, is known as "the shad tree"--because when it blooms, that's when the shad run.

He just called to tell me I'd misunderstood: It's not that mountain laurel are called shad tree, but that there's another tree, that blooms at the same time as mountain laurel, called shad tree. Actually, several trees in the genus Amelanchier go by that name, including this, Amelanchier bartramaiana, the mountain shadbush (also known as oblong serviceberry--ahh, names):



(Source)



(Here's a photo from Flickr of mountain laurel--not a shad tree or shadbush--by Flickr user Robert Ferraro--you can click through to see it larger.)
Kalmia latifolia - Mountain Laurel

He also told me that there was a law in Boston in the 18th century that you couldn't feed apprentices shad more than twice a week... which gives you a sense of its plentifulness at that time (and its low regard). (I searched law+apprentices+shad and found confirmation in a Google books excerpt from The Literary Era: A Repository of Literary and Miscellaneous Information (published 1901), which says,
From a recently published report of the Pennsylvania Fish Commission, it would appear that similar troubles were not unknown in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. The low prices of fish tempted many master mechanics to keep their apprentices on a lenten diet. Shad were particularly common and particularly cheap--so common and so cheap, in fact, that they were considered fit only for Indians, helots, and apprentices. The apprentices revolted ... The youngsters ... triumphed so far that the law relating to indentures was changed so that the boys "were not to be fed on fish more than twice a week." (p. 298)

Date: 2017-05-23 01:48 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
"Lobsters have not always been considered chic eats. In 17th- and 18th-century America, they were so abundant in the northeast that they were often used as fertilizer. Laws were even passed forbidding people to feed servants lobster more than twice a week."

Date: 2017-05-23 04:08 pm (UTC)
movingfinger: (Default)
From: [personal profile] movingfinger
Nova Scotia-reared family members have told me that they were ashamed of bringing lobster sandwiches for their school lunches, because it showed how poor they were (and they were, and lobster was free).

Date: 2017-05-24 06:17 pm (UTC)
missroserose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] missroserose
I'm actually pretty sure the high prices of lobster are entirely marketing-driven - we've made it a delicacy through demand, not through rarity. Lobsters themselves are still eminently common.

...and I just checked with Google, which says it's actually a mixed story. Some stocks are doing just fine, but others (especially the one in Southern New England) are collapsing, although this seems to be more due to environmental change than overfishing. Which is still a human-driven cause, heh.

Date: 2017-05-23 01:48 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
"In the 19th century, the oyster had been a staple diet of the poor. The humble bivalve was eaten in prodigious quantities. In 1860, the three oyster companies in Whitstable alone, employing more than 100 boats and over 500 people, sent 50 million tons of oysters to London. Most of them were eaten by the poorest folk. "Oysters and poverty always seem to go together," as Pickwick's Sam Weller remarked.

Beef and oyster pies and puddings had been a classic Victorian dish. The poorer you were, the more oysters you put in. Rich folk bigged up the amount of beefsteak."

Date: 2017-05-23 01:58 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
How things have changed!

I wonder if it's because we no longer put untreated sewage into the water?

Oysters, being filter feeders, are prime vector for Hepatitis A etc if you put untreated sewage into the Thames...

(This would be doubly relevant back when cholera was A Thing.)

Date: 2017-05-23 04:21 pm (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I know some coastal areas have done habitat restoration, too.

I know it is not environmentally altruistic to want sustainable seafood so that someday I can eat all the oysters I want without concern for the population, but someday I want to eat all the oysters I want.

Date: 2017-05-23 04:26 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I'm fine with people having both altruistic and selfish motives for things

Oh, good. Oysters taste great.

Date: 2017-05-23 05:53 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
My point was that raw sewage going into the Thames etc meant

a) oysters made people sick, therefore people who could afford NOT to eat them didn't eat them,

not that

b) raw sewage meant there were less oysters, and sewage treatment meant there were more oysters.

But b) is probably true as well...

Date: 2017-05-23 02:02 pm (UTC)
amaebi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amaebi
I love kalmia and its architectural flowers!

Chun Woo marvels as often as we eat them that oysters and lobsters used to be considered low-class trashy food.

Date: 2017-05-23 03:14 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
mountain laurel, which blooms around now, is known as "the shad tree"--because when it blooms, that's when the shad run.

I knew this and I have no idea why. I like the idea of it being a fish tree, though, glittering with scales in spring, laden with roe in the fall.

Date: 2017-05-23 03:21 pm (UTC)
cmcmck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cmcmck
The same rules applied to apprentices and salmon here!

Date: 2017-05-23 04:58 pm (UTC)
cafenowhere: frog, arms crossed, sitting on a rock (chillin)
From: [personal profile] cafenowhere
I like the synonymy of the laurel and shad. I wonder, What if their populations waxed and waned together? What if, in the universe's calculus, mountain laurel = shad, for no causal reason?

Date: 2017-05-23 09:05 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
What a beautiful tree. I don't believe I've ever seen a mountain laurel before. I love the delicate precise dots of dark red - it looks almost like an embroidery pattern.

Date: 2017-05-24 05:32 am (UTC)
ivy: Two strands of ivy against a red wall (Default)
From: [personal profile] ivy
Huh, for some reason I thought mountain laurel would be more like rowan. Interesting to see that I was wrong!

I am particularly amused by the laws since if I pass my SAR exam next month, I'll be an Apprentice tracker, haha. Fish forever!

Date: 2017-05-24 09:18 am (UTC)
rimturse: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rimturse
Oh how cool about the law! We had similar local ones here, but with salmon and farm helpers.

Date: 2017-05-24 02:31 pm (UTC)
rimturse: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rimturse
It is. Our area has had a big restoration project with Skjern Å, both with the return of the wetlands and the Skjern Å salmon. The results have been amazing. The salmon fishing is still regulated, but the numbers are very strong. Makes one think what else could be done - and it's been really good for tourism.

Date: 2017-05-25 10:20 pm (UTC)
petrichor_pirate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] petrichor_pirate
I like the idea of the apprentices revolting and there being a law made for it. It puts tge lie to the concept that "back in the old times" all the young'uns did whatever their elders wanted all the time.

Date: 2017-05-31 03:06 am (UTC)
heliopausa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heliopausa
I'm reading these entries backwards and late (but not in high heels) so I understand that the story of the shad tree showing when the shad are running got a bit mixed in the telling, but I want to say that when the purple bang lang flowers, the tertiary students are having exams was the first botanic-calendar link I learned in Vietnam. :)

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