I could give up meat tomorrow, but I’d have a much harder time giving up fruit de mer (frooee duh mare) seafood, particularly scallops. Fruit de mer literally means “fruit of the sea.” The word “scallop” comes from the French word escalope that meant shell in old French from the northeast of the country. The word for scallop in French is now Saint-Jacques. This refers to James, the son of Zebedee, one of the disciples. Pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostelo in Spain wore a scallop shell and were to be given a much food as would fit in one scoop of the shell during the trip. How Saint James came to be identified with a scallop is pure conjecture, however. According to one legend, the saint once rescued a knight covered in scallop shells. A variation on the theme says that while the saint’s remains were being transported to Spain from Jerusalem the horse of one of the knights accompanying the body fell into a river and was miraculously covered in scallops.
I had lovely scallops this weekend at Parc restaurant in Phildelphia. They were served on spaghetti squash with pancetta and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. Parc has a wonderful French bistro atmosphere and a great location next to Rittenhouse Square. Check them out here. The scallops may not have been the result of a miracle, but they sure were heavenly.