Scallops are one of the most delectable foodstuffs to come from the sea. Not much more expensive than other bi-valve mollusk cousins, they are so rich, sweet and tender that a little goes a long way.
The word scallop comes from the Old French escalope meaning "shell," referring to the shell that houses the scallop. Scallops are mentioned in print as far back as 1280, when Marco Polo mentions scallops as being one of the seafoods sold in the marketplace in Hangchow, China. Paris restauranteur Gustave Chatagnier featured a special scallops dish on his menu in 1936.
With the advent of new equipment in 1965 enabling the processing of deepwater mollusks, calico scallops became a major harvest off the shores of North Carolina and Florida, with catches averaging 12 million pounds a year between 1984 and 1994.
Probably the most famous scallop dish is Coquille St.-Jacques. The word coquille means shell in French. This dish has some religious history, but only with regard to the shell itself. The scallop shell was used as a badge of reverence and identification by pilgrims visiting the Spanish shrine of St. James (St. Jacques in French). The famous dish is made of a blend of scallops in a cream and butter sauce and is traditionally served in the beautiful shell of the scallop.