Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/274

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262
DIMYARIA.—UNIONIDÆ.

have been before alluded to. (See ante, p. 43.) Such cases, however, are rare, and, as Pennant remarks, for one who is affected by eating mussels, a hundred remain uninjured. In general, they are simply boiled with us; but probably they might be made much more savoury by a different mode of cooking. Captain King, in speaking of a large species (M. choros) found abundantly on some islands on the Pacific coast of South America, observes:—"The manner in which the natives of these islands, both Indians and descendants of foreigners, cook shell-fish is similar to that used for baking in the South Sea Islands, and in some parts of the coast of New Holland. A hole is dug in the ground, in which large smooth stones are laid, and upon them a fire is kindled. When they are sufficiently heated, the ashes are cleared away, the shell-fish heaped upon the stones, and covered first with leaves or straw, and then with earth. The fish thus baked are exceedingly tender and good, and this mode of cooking them is superior to any other, as they retain within the shell all their own juiciness."


Family Unionidæ

(Freshwater Mussels.)

From the true Mussels the transition is easy to those of this family. They are distinguished chiefly by the structure of the foot of the animal, which is greatly developed in dimensions, and, at least in general, has not the power of spinning a byssus. Mr. Anthony, however, a conchologist of the United States, where the great abundance of