Bobby Groves was born in Maldon, Essex – where 2000 years ago the Romans developed a taste for the native oysters, and they were shipped back to Rome as a highly prized delicacy. Bobby’s first job as a young lad was on the oyster farms, packing thousands of oysters into crates with frostbitten fingers in the Essex winter. It’s a long way from being Head of Oysters at Chiltern Firehouse, but it’s his physical first hand, lifelong, understanding of these strange creatures and their provenance that makes him so beloved of oyster fans from far and wide.
In Oyster Isles, Bobby takes us on a wonderful journey around the oysters of the British Isles and Ireland, showing how their story is interwoven into the fabric of our history, culture, nature and people. Oysters were here before humans, and recently oyster shell remains were found in Skara Brae, cast aside in a Neolithic village 5000 years ago – we’ve been eating oysters all that time. They were a food of the poor when in abundance before industrialisation and then a food of decadence once they became scarce at the turn of the century. From fun facts (you’ll learn where the word ‘ostracized’ comes from…) to socio-political history (like the impact of Beeching’s trainline closures on fisheries) to wonderful nature writing and celebration of our coastlines, Oyster Isles will be a joy to dip into or read from cover to cover.