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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Limpet the familiar mollusc of sea shores around the world. Its typical conical shell has earned it the name chapeau chinois in France.

Most limpets are edible, and Stone Age middens in such places as Orkney show that in the distant past they were consumed in huge quantities; but few are now marketed.

Lovell (1884), with his unquenchable enthusiasm for mollusc-eating, collected some interesting traditional ways of preparing Patella vulgata, the common European species. Thus at Herm, ‘limpets were placed on the ground, in their usual position, and cooked by being covered with a heap of straw, which had been set on fire, about twenty minutes before dinner’. And in more recent times the Scots used to mix limpet juice with their oatmeal. (Limpet juice is palatable, and can be used to make a limpet sauce which goes well with seafood; but it is hard work to prise a sufficient quantity of limpets off the rocks to which they cling with such tenacity.)