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Besides the varieties of fish that have already been considered, the general term fish also includes SHELL FISH. Fish of this kind are different in structure from bony fish, for they are acquatic animals that are entirely or partly encased in shells. They include 'mollusks', or 'bivalves', such as oysters, clams, and scallops, and 'crustaceans', such as lobsters, crabs, and shrimp.

The popularity of the edible varieties of mollusks and crustaceans mentioned depends largely on whether they can be easily obtained and whether they are pleasing to the local or individual taste. As they are found in salt rivers, bays, and other shallow salt-water sources, their
greatest use is among people living near the seashore, but they are much favored where they can be procured in edible condition. They are not so cheap as many other fish foods; that is, a certain amount of money will not purchase so great a quantity of shell fish, lobster for instance, as some of the well-known varieties of fish proper, such as halibut or whitefish. Lobsters and crabs are usually more expensive than oysters and clams; consequently, they are used more often to provide a delicacy or to supply something more or less uncommon for a special meal.
Shell fish lend themselves admirably to a large variety of dishes, including soups, entrees, salads, and substitutes for meat dishes. They possess a great deal of distinctive flavor, their food value is comparatively high, and, provided they are in good condition and are properly prepared, they are healthful and easily digested. It can therefore be seen that shell fish have much to recommend their use. There is considerable danger, however, in using any varieties that are not perfectly fresh or freshly cooked. In the case of mollusks, or bivalves, much harm has resulted from the use of those which have been grown or bred in unsanitary surroundings. Because of these facts, it is of the utmost importance that great care be exercised in selecting and preparing shell fish. With the exception of clams and lobster, which can be obtained all the year around, shell fish have particular seasons; that is, there is a certain time of the year when they are not suitable for food.

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