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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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chiton an unusual marine mollusc, whose ‘shell’ is a flexible girdle surrounding eight overlapping plates. Various species occur on shores round the world, typically living under rocks, and feeding on vegetation. They are not normally considered as food, but the fleshy foot muscle is eaten in some countries, e.g. in New Zealand, parts of S. America, and the Caribbean region.

Gibbons (1964) is alone in devoting a whole chapter to chitons as food. Emphasizing the extent to which American Indians of the north-west ate them in the past, he draws particular attention to:

the Giant Sea Cradle, or Gum Boot, Amicula stelleri, the largest chiton in the world, attaining a length of 13 inches. These and several other large species were eagerly sought by the West Coast Indians, and they became favorite seafoods of the Russians who first settled southeastern Alaska.