MTN News- If you thought about Frontier Montana at the peak of the Gold Rush, you would consider the table fare as rather hearty.  Wild game, certainly, along with other substantial stables, but in this week’s Big Sky Chronicles Don Dunwell reports unexpected on an unexpected delicacy.

In the late 19th Century, Montana was a landscape dotted with cattle herds and cowboys.  The often harsh countryside produced a cornucopia for products that fed the people, but appearances can be deceiving.

Buried in the 100s of cookbooks at the Montana Historical Society are scores upon scores of recipies for a delicacy harvested thousands of miles from this frontier wildness. Oysters.

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“They were ubiquitous. They were everywhere going into the 1890’s.” said Research Historian, Zoe Ann Stolz.

Montana Historical Society researcher, Zoe Ann Stoltz says all of America was in love with the oyster in the 19th century.Even in 1860’s Montana when air transport wasn’t even a dream.  Which means they were coming up the Missouri on a steamboat, being distributed there at Ft. Benton and freighted to Virginia City.

But, not all 19th century oyster tales in Big Sky Country had happy-as-a-clam endings.  When a frontier bride served a Christmas feast to her husband’s ranch hands, a feast turned into a fiasco.

They dug in and it is not until her husband sits down that any of the men have the nerve to say, “What is wrong with these oysters?” That Christmas feast rapidly deteriorated after the beef course.

As you enjoy your Holiday feast this year, you might want to pay homage to the oyster, once the King of Montana tables.

But, as you enjoy your holiday feast this year, you might want to pay homage to the oyster, once the king of Montana tables.



Reported by:Don Dunwell