Last weekend I ate a lot of lobster, so I decided to read up on lobsters.
In his book The Lobster Coast, Colin Woodard reports that coastal new Englanders of the early 19th century fed lobsters to prisoners and indentured servants. One group of indentured servants got so sick of this diet that they took their owners to court and sued them . The court judged that they would not be served lobster more than three times a week. Geez!
Lobsters look pretty funny too. Here’s what Woodard has to say about their appearance:
“ . . .lobsters are armored and buglike, cold blooded omnivores from an alien realm few humans ever visit . . .In basic design, Homarus americanus resembles a self-propelled Swiss Army knife, with deployable appendages for every occasion. Around the mouth is an assortment of forks, clamps, brushes, paring knives, and crushing devices . . .There are retractable stalks for each eye, long whiplike antennae for touch and smaller ones for smell. There are walking legs and cleaning brooms, plus long sets of swimming paddles, modified in the female for clutching eggs. In all, the lobster has twenty pairs of appendages . . .” Woodard, The Lobster Coast, pp. 242-3.
Sometimes in colonial New England, lobsters were strewn on the fields as fertilizer. But eventually the lobster got some respect. Maine lobster was the second food canned in the U.S. (oysters was first), and in 1850, three lobster canning factories were the only canneries of any kind in the entire country.
Now lobstering is big business in Maine, and I find Homarus americanus mighty good eating.