Food decomposes. We can guess what our ancestor ate, study their recipes, maybe even find egg shells and fish skulls in the remains of their rubbish. But certain dishes that may have been a staple a few thousand years before have vanished.
The same can be said of fossils. They offer an invaluable record to the past, but it is without a doubt incomplete. Some dinosaurs are known by only one or two bones.
Which is why no-one has heard of the oyster cows.
There are a few reports of their thick triangular horns, like ice cream cones pointing out of their head, and folk tales from the borders of Mongolia. We do not even know what colour they were. What we do know is there was a dessert.
The closest thing we have to it these days is rice pudding. Imagine that nursery staple, but with hunks of raisins and spicy fruits, and a cream like a thin yoghurt.
You served the pudding from a large wooden bowl, and ate with spoons closer to ladles than something you stir your tea with. The cream tasted medicinal. This is why you needed the spicy fruits.
Leave a little in the bowl, and sit round a fire, preferably at night. Use the fire to warm the dessert if you want. Stare at any raisins that are left.
Your vision will grow milky and blurred, but don’t panic. You will see the world again. Only upon your return, those raisins will be hard creamy orbs, with a rainbow slick across the top.
Technically they are not pearls. But take them to any market or bazaar in the world, any jeweller on the planet, and they will not be able to tell the difference.
This bounty caused the death of the oyster cows. Turn everything to gold, and gold becomes useless. And now we do not even know what they look like. However, in the next pearl necklace you see there may be the last trace of their existence glinting in the sun.