The Adventure Continues… Abalone

Last Wednesday I featured an episode of California’s Gold that included a short segment on abalone diving in Northern California; it was only after I’d completed the post that I realized there was an entire half-hour episode from 1999 on the same topic, delving deeper into the history of abalone and its role in California culture. It’s packed with great historic photos and fascinating details about abalone and the people who sought them. And if you’re still hungry to watch more about abalone after seeing it, there is also an episode of Visiting (#1023) from 2002 that focuses on abalone farming.

They were once a mainstay on menus throughout California. You could go to the beach at low tide and pluck them from the rocks. Kids would have parties on the beach and roast them by the dozen. They have gone from a California tradition to near extinction. In this episode, we’ll take a close look at the history of abalone in California.

The Native Americans who once lived up and down the coast of California were the original abalone eaters. Not only did they use the flesh for food, but they also used the mother of pearl shells for their crafts. Huell visits a very early midden pile in Point Lobos State Reserve and learns about its history.

The Japanese were the firsts to harvest abalone commercially in California and were diving for them as early as the turn of the century. Huell visits the site of one of the early Japanese abalone canneries. As a special treat, we go into Monterey Bay to watch as one of the original divers go for a dive in an authentic 1930’s suit.

We couldn’t do a show about abalone without a taste, so Huell joins a group of school kids as they pound, cook and eat a little piece of California’s Gold.

(Click on the linked image below to see the video.)

Leave a Reply