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Inquiries have recently been made as to the possibility,of procuring a supply of the South Sea luxury known as beche-de-mer in London, but none of our enterprising merchants seems to have yet added this article to his list of imports. Possibly the forthcoming International Fisheries Exhibition will afford an opportunity for introducing the British public to this little-known article—little known, at least, out of the South Sea Islands, China, Japan, and the Malay Archipelago. The beche-de-mer is a large marine “ slug,” so called, of the I folothuria family, of a dark brown color, and measuring sometimes as much as two feet in length and six inches in width. It is doubtful, however, if many of such giants as this are left for the demand for these creatures in China alone is so great that every known locality in which they are produced is regularly “ fished ’’ all the year round. The mode of capture is either to spear the animals on a long pointed stick, or to dive below the surface and collect them in a basket, while in some cases a trawl or dredge has been used with some success for the purpose. The “ slugs” are then either dried in the sun or thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, and afterwards spit open, cleaned, and stewed for half an hour, and then dried over a slow fire. Though called a “ slug” the creature is no slug at all, being endowed with eight or ten small feet, and resembling a huge woodlouse rather than the slim)’-, slippery creatures to which the name is properly applied. If it is ever to take that place, as a nourishing delicacy, which its fame in the East would seem to entitle it to take, its ordinary name of “ sea-slug ” must be dropped, and the less repulsive name of “ trepang,” by which it is commercially known in the East, substituted for it. Our French neighbors, who enjoy snail soup and frogs’ hind legs, might take to the novelty more readily than fastidious Englishmen.— The Colonies and India.

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Bibliographic details

A LUXURY FROM THE SOUTH SEAS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 812, 7 December 1882

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A LUXURY FROM THE SOUTH SEAS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume IV, Issue 812, 7 December 1882

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