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"Oysters, Clams, and Cockles!"
- a girl has no name

Basic Information

An Oysterer is a gatherer or seller of oysters. A practitioner of aquaculture, or a merchant who deals in such.

Although in modern times the oyster is seen as a luxury food - and therefore an aphrodisiac - until the dysentery pandemics of mid to late 19th Century they were popular street food and consumed in large quantities where available. See, for example, in Charles Dickens' novels, which were written around the end of the period. That's also why a nameless girl1 in Game of Thrones poses as a roaming oyster vendor, as this gives her cover for roaming the docks, slums, and bawdy houses day after day. Oyster shells appear widely in the analysis of historical urban waste and middens, but in some places might well have been picked for use in the lime making industry, depending what other resources could be had locally.

The term Oysterer is also sometimes used to refer to the boats used in oyster fishing.

The trade in pearls is also part of an oyster fishery, but is rarely compatible with the seafood trade - a pearl diving boat generally doesn't bring home a useable catch of oysters at the day's end.



Game and Story Use

  • As demonstrated in A Song Of Ice And Fire, an Oysterer (or really any roaming street vendor) can be a good cover story to obfuscate your espionage, surveillance, casing the joint in preparation for burglary or robbery, being a stalker, on a stake out, etc. The PC (or other criminal) won't stand out as being up to no good, despite idly malingering day after day in the same area.
  • If you want to slip in an environmental message about climate change or overfishing, you could show lower-class (peasant?) characters eating the abundance of oyster, lobster, and other things we have re-categorized as luxury foods now that the bounty of the sea has thinned a bit.
    • Or, sans politics, it could just demonstrate how the past is a foreign country, or illustrate the awkwardness of a fish out of temporal water, when a Connecticut Yankee or other time traveler ends up sometime different than the era of their birth.
    • Maybe just a foreign country being foreign - someone from a primarily inland culture might think of these things as rare, whilst coastal dwellers look at them like small game. Of course, given that filter feeders are not always the cleanest, tourists may regret tucking into the local street food.
  • An outbreak of cholera or some other novel, foodborne disease may be doing the rounds - but in this case Dr Snow's pump may turn out to be a single oysterer who has been hawking their wares around the city.
    • Or the entire fishery may be slowly being infected and a significant resource is about to go offline.
  • Speaking of shellfish and their pollution, the aquaculture branch of oystering might be quick to notice something going wrong with the sea as the pollution gets into their beds and corrupts their stock.
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