Lobster holds the undisputed title of being the most sought-after crustacean in the world, and for a good reason. Its firm and tasty meat is just superb and is widely recognised as the elite’s delicacy. Yes, we all know how amazing it can be, but do you know the history how this status symbol came to be regarded as one of the fanciest food item?
Seeing a two-foot pile of lobsters simply lying around all washed up in the shore is nothing more but a dream that would certainly bring delight to anyone with exquisite taste. Apparently, this used to be a reality, and it was such a common sight when the pilgrims first arrived in North America around the 17th century. Unlike today, though, they were not impressed. Lobsters were so abundant back then that they dubbed it as the cockroach of the sea; and eating them was considered to be an embarrassment and a sign of poverty. Nevertheless, they found some use out of it. Lobsters were given as staple to prisoners, orphans and widows. Some people grew so sick of eating it every day, they demanded that it must only be given to them no more than three times a week.
In the middle of the 18th century, canning was introduced. The fate of the lobster then began charting a new course. They started producing canned lobsters and sold it for very cheap prices. It was so cheap that it only sold for a quarter of the price of canned beans!
Then came the railroad companies. They are the ones that we should credit for the popularity of lobster today. While others merely considered canned lobster as pet food, the railroad companies saw it as an opportunity and took advantage of the bargain price. They rebranded this poor man’s food as an exotic dish and served them to train passengers who were completely oblivious of the lobster’s awful reputation. The passengers, unsurprisingly, found it to be quite delicious.
Shortly after, lobster caught the attention of chefs and the wealthy. Demands increased and prices rose, making it more and more expensive. By the end of World War II, lobster has grounded itself as the luxurious delicacy we now crave for today.
Europeans were historically more appreciative of this treat. Unlike America, Europe had long acknowledged the posh taste lobster had to offer, dating as far back as the 4th BC. The Greeks had deemed it as an excellent food and often fished it using lobster traps. Even in ancient times, it had been a popular food among the Greeks and Romans. Lobsters were fished intensively and were sold at hefty prices. Since it was already considered as a prestigious food among these societies, expeditions were sometimes made to collect the finest specimens.
Interestingly, different parts of the lobster were thought to have medicinal properties, and were used as laxative and a cure to poisoning. In the Middle Ages, it was widely regarded as an aphrodisiac.
Finally, by the 17th century (the time when the pilgrims started cringing over the abundance of their lobster), the lobster had made its appearance in Europe’s grandest feasts hosted by the upper classes. Check out our live lobster.