Today is Throwback Thursday!! And today, I’m reflecting back on some of the fun dinners I’ve had while cruising. This is a picture of a napkin that I “Leomatized” for our awesome waiters on board the Holland America line. I keep paint in my pursue just for such occasions. Can you guess what we had for dinner that night?
“Lobster is fancy,” says Greg Elwell in the Oklahoma Gazette. “If you imagine a lobster talking, it probably has a British accent. Draw an animated lobster and I bet you’ll include a top hat, a monocle, and an opera cape.”
But did you know that once upon a time, lobster was once considered trash food, fit only for servants and the incarcerated? As late as 1876, if you saw lobster shells in someone’s garbage or on the ground outside their house, it was considered a sign of poverty and degradation.
So what happened to make lobster a sign of wealth and decadence? It wasn’t cruise lines. It was trains. In the 1800s, lobster was cheap, cheap, cheap, and railroad managers figured out that they could serve it to passengers from the Midwest who didn’t know that it had a poor rep among people who lived on the Atlantic coastline. As I tell people all the time, it’s all about how you market something, and the railroads told their passengers that lobster was a rare and exotic food. Well, they not only loved it, they started demanding it when they dined out at seafood and other restaurants.
About this time, something else happened. Some cook somewhere figured out that lobster tasted better when it was cooked live. It’s true. There was a time when lobsters were killed and cooked later on.
Demand went up, supply went down and the price of lobster peaked in the 1920s. But then the Depression and World War II happened. Demand went down, the overfished lobster populations recovered, and lobsters were even canned and served to our fighting forces in Germany and the Pacific. Imagine soldiers sitting in a foxhole eating lobster from a can like spam!
After the war, lobster’s reputation as a luxury item surged. Even the Rockefellers served it at their lavish parties. And, of course, today it’s coveted by foodies everywhere – just a step or two behind caviar, truffles and escargot.
I like it because lobsters make for a very nice painting, and the waiters in this picture liked having my Leomatized napkin as a souvenir.
P.S. The service got even better after that! Just saying.
P.P.S. I’ll be leaving soon on another cruise. Can you guess where Mike and I are going?