Dietribes: Lobster Tales


• Lobster love goes back a long way (1605 marks the first recorded lobster catch), while the creatures were more than plentiful in the 17th and 18th centuries. But originally these sea creatures were consider pauper's food - there are stories of indentured servants having it written into their contracts that they could not be served lobster more than twice a week.

• The Guinness Book of World Records lists a 44-pound 6-ounce specimen caught off Nova Scotia in 1977 as the largest lobster on record (which was eventually was sold to a restaurant).

• However, there are many tales of lobster liberation: In 1987, A 22-pound lobster (estimated to be around 40 years old) escaped the fate of many when an Alaskan doctor paid to have it taken from Anchorage to Maine and set free in the Atlantic. Another lobster in new York City estimated to be 140 years old, was similarly released back into the ocean after being granted a reprieve.

• For those not as lucky, lobster claws are banded in tanks because the creatures are especially cannibalistic (and strong - a lobster's claw can crush a man's finger). Lobsters are also bottomfeeding scavengers, leading many to call them "cockroaches of the sea."

• Lobsters also need no longer fear fisherman's bait and traps, but rather, a joystick. In a Maine restaurant, patrons can catch their dinner live via a "claw machine," as one would use for plush toys, if they can (those lobsters are wiley - but perhaps it would be more fair to pitch the machine up against a robo lobster?)

• A lobster that has lost one claw or has any missing appendage is called a cull. One that has lost two claws is called a bullet or dummie. But do not dismay - lobsters can grow back new claws, legs, and antennae, surviving mangling by sharks or other foes.

• Lobsters come in other colors than pre-boiled brown, rare as they may be - a yellow lobster's chances of appearing are around one in 30 million. Elsewhere, one particularly odd two-toned lobster has merged boiled and pre-boiled looks. But the real king of the Unusual Lobster Color crown? The blue lobster.

• Is "lobster shell" the new "tortoise shell"? "The shells from Maine's signature seafood are being used to manufacture decorative tiles, trivets and drinking-glass coasters. Work is under way to utilize them in countertops and tabletops. And at the University of Maine, a professor has developed prototypes of biodegradable golf balls and plant pots made out of ground-up lobster shells." Lobsters also make for unique fashion.

• Artists and poets seem to also have an affection for lobsters - Salvador Dali had his infamous lobster telephone while Gérard de Nerval took his pet lobster for a walk in the gardens of the Palais-Royal in Paris, saying "I have affection for lobsters. They are tranquil, serious and they know the secrets of the sea.”

• March of the Penguins? Fugghedaboudit when compared to the March of the Lobsters.

• Where are all those lobsters marching to? More like marching away from lobster festivals that include such events as crate racing (which looks difficult, dangerous and painful).

• And the most bizarre lobster fact this week - you can hypnotize a lobster. No really, it's easy. Just stand it on its head with its claws laid out in front of it and its tail curled inward. Rub your hand up and down the carapace making sure to rub between the eyes. Eventually it may(!) stand by itself (honestly this would probably make me go catatonic, too).

• Share your own lobster tales in the comments!

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‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.