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HISTORY

How lobster went from being food for the “poor” to a luxury dish

Did you know that before being a luxury, lobster was considered “food for the poor?” Learn about its curious history.

Lobster is currently considered a luxury dish due to its high cost and the simple fact of being served in exclusive restaurants. However, behind this juicy and delicious delicacy, there is a curious contradiction in its history; it was once considered “food for the poor.”

That’s right, although it is hard to believe, lobsters were even called “sea cockroaches” and were used to feed pigs and servants, and over the years, thanks to tourism, lobsters became a luxurious treat from the sea.

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Here is the curious story behind this exclusive dish.

History of lobster

In the 19th century, some fishermen from the coasts of Canada and New England discovered, for the first time, thousands of lobsters in the sea. So they began to call them “sea cockroaches” because there were so many of them.

Precisely the abundance of this species made them begin to be fished for their consumption, and immediately it was used as food for pigs, the servants, and the prisoners because it was very easy to obtain and very cheap.

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In the same period, in 1841, the first canning factory arrived in Maine, and with this, lobster began to be canned for commercialization, since it was so easy to reach.

How did lobster become a luxury dish?

After the boom of this cheap and delicious canned food, the dish began to be offered to tourists traveling by railroad as if it were an exclusive dish since the deception was that the lobsters were placed on porcelain plates to sell as luxury food.

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The taste was so well-liked by the diners that the lobster began to gain a lot of popularity, and with it, its demand rose, and so did its price. The rumor of this delicious dish reached England and it was then that it began to be considered a unique luxury.

This generated that, from being “food for the poor,” it became a luxury dish that only the rich could afford. Today lobster is still considered a pricey treat; however, there are way more affordable than some decades ago.

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Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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