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THE TURTLE KING.

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic Nbws.

The dramatists have satirised and the satirists have sneered, but turtle soup remains tiie dish par excellence, which no one —not even playwright or poet—ever refuses. We may—because it is traditional and because there is nothing with more vitality than an old joke—associate the turtle with tho alderman and the alderman with overeating. But we feel, nevertheless, in our heart of hearts that turtle of soup is an exceedingly good thing, and-~aldermanic or not aldermanic—if we are honest—as we ought to be —we are not afraid to confess that we like it. It is only those who do not know turtle soup who form wrong ideas about it, like that fantastic epicure of the First Empire Grormod de la Reyniere, who committed the double blunder of dubbing it the British national dish, and went on to describe that poor substitute, mock turtle. One cannot but pity the r ate of this man, who lived to eat, aiid yet appears to have died without having attended a City banquet. "But the consumption of turtle is not restricted nowadays to the City or thereabouts," interpolates Mr T. K. Bellis, of 6, Jeffrey's square, City, the turtle king. "Few public functions, and not many private ones, throughout the country are considered comme il faut without it." "Largely owing to yourself, I believe?" 'Yes"; I venture to think so—nine-tenths of the trade is now in my hands—hard work of course it was at first. I left Liverpool at fifteen " "A Lancashire man! I can understand your sticking to it." "Thank you. But, to be candid, I have had pretty nearly to fight my own battle from the age of fifteen. I entered a West India Hou«e when I first came to London, but started on my own account in 1874 at twenty-three. Would you like to see the store f* - A glance at the cellar showed a couple of score of healthy turtles—healtihy because they were noisy—on their litter of straw, and we were made acquainted with the myssteries of their bath and other adequate hygienic arrangements. "Iβ there any difficulty in keeping them?". "Not here, where we can regulate tfae temperature and other conditions, but the sea voyage is on occasions a great loss to us. In cold weather especially we sometimes lose as much as a third of our consignment." "And that is?"

"A hundred fortnightly, the average weight being about 1401b—we do not care for them heavier, as with increased weight the flesh loses delicacy." "Is the supply steady?" "Yes; the regularity of the demand has caused arrangements to be made at Kingston, the centre in the West Indies, by which the former precarious conditions have been overcome. Schooners, which capture the turtle with the net, take them to Kingston, some eighty to one hundred and fifty at a time. They are mostly caught among the coral inlands iv the Mexican Gulf. At Kingston they are deposited in salt water and fed on turtle grass. They are vege4 tarians. From Kingston they are shipped in the Royal Mail steamers as required." "Will they feed here?" "Only rarely—but they will get on for a long time without food. Possibly they obtivin some nutriment from the water in which they sivini daily. Moreover, they are not with us long, as the supply and the demand have now regulated themselves into a system."

"You only import one kind of turtle?" t "Yes. In" the United States the terrapin, which is a species of tortoise, is regarded as the greater delicacy, and the consumption of it has greatly diminished its numbers. In other parts; of the world other kinds of turtle are, I believe, used as food. Their eggs, too, which are laid in extraordinary quantity, are converted into a staple diet in parts of South America. Like the bamboo, the turtle has been made to serve mankind in a host of ways from the earliest times. Iβ it not so far back as Pliny that we read of its shell forming a roof, a boat and a butter dish?—to say nothing of the hair combs, which, by the way, seem to be coming into vogue again. The green turtle alone is eaten here."

"Is the celebrated £reen fat really the choicest part of the fi*k?" "For those who like it. It is, of course, very rich, but it is not used in the manufacture of soup The part used in soup is the membranes o* the stomach and backshell—called Calipash and Calipee—-and the iins."

In_addition to the supply of the live turtle, Mi-belli i has conducted with great success a department ic-c the distribution of turtle m tiu and m bottle. The demand has grown with the growth of influenza, for the debilitating effects of which turtle and its extracts have been found to be practically a specific. J

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP18980628.2.42

Bibliographic details

THE TURTLE KING., Press, Volume LV, Issue 10074, 28 June 1898

Word Count
813

THE TURTLE KING. Press, Volume LV, Issue 10074, 28 June 1898

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