Lobster rolls are a popular summertime delicacy, usually served on a toasted bun with a side of coleslaw.
At Ed’s Lobster Bar in New York City, a 4-ounce lobster roll will cost about $34.
But lobster wasn’t always so expensive. During the 1600s, American lobsters were dirt-cheap because they were so plentiful.
During WWII seafood wasn’t rationed, and many discovered lobster as a delicacy.
Chef Ed explains the logistics behind catching and shipping lobsters that contribute to the high cost of serving them in his restaurant.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: It’s no secret that lobsters are pricey. And a standard lobster dinner in a restaurant can set you back $38 or more. Lobsters are considered a gourmet dish today, but there was a time when they were known as the cockroaches of the sea and even served to prisoners. So when did lobsters become such a delicacy? And why are they so expensive? There are a lot of species of lobster, but we’re interested in the recognizable, clawed lobsters you might see on the menu: Homarus americanus and Homarus gammarus, better known as American and European lobster. These two species are very similar. The biggest difference is their color. We went to Ed’s Lobster Bar in New York City to speak to someone who has a lot of experience buying, preparing, and cooking the crustacean.
Ed McFarland: So, one of the hardest things about working lobster is, truthfully, it’s the price range of lobster, and it fluctuates greatly and from year to year, and the price increases. And the yield when you clean a lobster is very low. So you could buy a pound-and-a-half lobster, I think this is what most people don’t understand, is in a pound-and-a-half lobster, there’s probably only 4 ounces of meat out of a hard-shell lobster. So there’s not much yield that comes out of the lobster. So when you’re cleaning the lobster yourself to make lobster rolls, it really turns into a very, very expensive product.
Narrator: To fully understand what makes lobster so expensive, we need to take a look at its history, because it wasn’t always as revered as it is now. Lobster’s history varies across the world, but, for a long time, it was a source of food for many of the poorest in society.
During the Viking era, lobsters as food became much more popular in northern Europe as boats more suited to deep-sea fishing became available. And by establishing meat-free days for certain religious holidays, the church also increased the demand for seafood, including lobster.
Across Europe, lobsters became associated with status and a lavish lifestyle. And they were often featured in paintings to show wealth. But the value of lobster remained low in North America. Native Americans used lobsters as fishing bait and crop fertilizer, a practice that European colonists later copied.
During the 1600s, American lobsters were dirt-cheap because they were so plentiful. Lobster became known as the “poor man’s protein” among European settlers, and the shellfish was often served …read more
Source:: Business Insider