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There have been a number of different explanations offered for oyster stew being traditionally consumed on Christmas Eve. Bill Neal suggests that before the acceptance of refrigerated food transport, sufficient cold weather for shipping was not guaranteed before December, and so "Far from the coast, oysters became a symbol of the arrival of the winter holiday season, appearing in the markets by Christmas Eve and on tables that night as oyster stew. Stephanie Butler, however, gives an alternate explanation: Irish Catholic immigrants would not eat meat on Christmas Eve, and were used to eating ling fish stew instead. Butler suggests that "oysters taste pretty similar to dried ling: they're salty, briny and can be quite chewy. The ling stew recipe was quickly adapted for oysters."
The basic southern oyster stew is made with milk and cream. Oyster stew is often served with oyster crackers, and that may be the origin of the cracker's name.
- Lawrence, Marie W. (2011). The Farmer's Cookbook: A Back to Basics Guide to Making Cheese, Curing Meat, Preserving Produce, Baking Bread, Fermenting, and More. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 334. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- Bussemer, Dorothy L. (2009). "Oyster Stew with Mother". In Szymanski, Helen. Christmas Traditions: True Stories that Celebrate the Spirit of the Season. Adams Media. p. 111. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- Neal, Bill (2009). Bill Neal's Southern Cooking. University of North Carolina Press. p. 14. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- Butler, Stephanie. "Oyster Stew on Christmas Eve: An American Tradition". History.com. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- Gallary, Christine. "What Are Oyster Crackers (And How Did They Get Their Name)?". The Kitchn. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- "Culinary". Visit The Gambia. Gambia Tourism Board. Retrieved 20 November 2016.