Terrapin -

The Diamond-back, which is the kind always inferred when Terrapin is mentioned, is the female of a small salt-water variety, named from the diamond-shape marking of its shell. Within the last half century it has developed from almost a waste product - an article fed to slaves and apprentices before the Civil War - into one of the highest priced of food delicacies. The average marketable specimen now brings, at wholesale, from $2.50 to $8, the figures steadily rising with the diminishing supply.

The Terrapin from the mouth of the Chesapeake River were formerly considered the best, but equally good lots come from several other Southern States, both coast and gulf, and from Long Island, Connecticut and other Northern points. Those from Long Island now command the best prices in the North. Counts are Terrapin of six inches in length and over - measuring the under-shell; those under six inches are Shorts. The range of size is from two to nine inches, but the very small are rated as inferior. The season extends from November to May.

It is only the female or "cow" Terrapin which is sought for market purposes. The "bull" has little or no value. The choicest Terrapin are those styled "Full Cows" - i.e., those containing eggs.

The Mississippi and North Carolina Terrapin are also marketed, but they lack both the distinctive diamond marking and the true delicacy of flesh and are consequently much lower in price.

The "Slider" or "Red-Bellied Terrapin," often used as a substitute for the Diamond-Back, is a small fresh-water tortoise.

Arround Terrapin in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

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