Lobster (Reaktion Books - Animal)
Richard J. King
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Other than that it tastes delicious with butter, what do you know about the knobbily-armoured, scarlet creature staring back at you from your fancy dinner plate? From ocean to stock pot, there are two sides to every animal story. For instance, since there are species of lobsters without claws, how exactly do you define a lobster? And how did a pauper’s food transform into a meal synonymous with a luxurious splurge? To answer these questions on behalf of lobster the animal is Richard J. King, a former fishmonger and commercial lobsterman, who has chronicled the creature’s long natural history.
Part of the Animal series, King’s Lobster takes us on a journey through the history, biology, and culture of lobsters, including the creature’s economic and environmental status worldwide. He describes the evolution of technologies to capture these creatures and addresses the ethics of boiling them alive. Along the way, King also explores the salacious lobster palaces of the 1920s, the animal’s thousand-year status as an aphrodisiac, and how the lobster has inspired numerous artists, writers, and thinkers including Aristotle, Dickens, Thoreau, Dalí, and Woody Allen.
Whether you want to liberate lobsters from their supermarket tanks or crack open their claws, this book is an essential read, describing the human connection to the lobster from his ocean home to the dinner table.
metres (12 feet) long, which they wielded over the side of a boat in the same way oyster tongs were once used. Some Norwegian lobstermen used lobster tongs into the nineteenth century but the Dutch, encouraging them to catch lobster more efficiently and not damage the animals with the tongs’ tines, introduced as early as 1717 a basket-style trap to the Norwegian coast. The Dutch seem to have adapted the idea from their eel trap.8 It remains difficult to say, however, which culture first invented
gold?’31 ‘Boiling-room’ in a lobster cannery, illustrating W. H. Bishop’s 1881 The Lobster at Home in Maine Waters. The lobster canning industry spread further into Atlantic Canada. According to Farley Mowat, in 1873 there was one factory all the way north in Newfoundland. Just fifteen years later 26 small canneries were boiling along, contracting over 1,000 fishermen and filling some 3 million 1 lb (450 g) cans of picked meat.32 Canneries used only the claws and tails, tossing or composting
and characters created around the lobster have inspired the works of writers and artists. Mirroring societal views as well as helping to create them, our authors, filmmakers and painters have attached a wide variety of symbolism to lobsters, usually focusing on the animal’s claws, its ‘armour’, its change of colour to a brilliant red after being cooked, and the fact that we regularly boil them alive – using these images to evoke unconscious desires, absurdity, pity or even madness. Some of our
red lobsters (Enoplometopus sp.), and whose taxonomy is still debated. Novice aquarium enthusiasts halfway across the world like the idea of a pretty little lobster in their tank – yet often wake up to find their new pet has eaten a few of their prized tropical fish.14 We’ll next sail to Fremantle Harbour, Western Australia. Here the guests of Cicerello’s, a popular restaurant here since the 1940s, relax outside, watch the vessels go in and out of the port and look across the harbour at a heroic
available at www.puerto-nuevolobster.com, accessed 24 August 2010; Andrea Sachs, ‘Mexico’s Little Lobster Town’, Washington Post (9 June 2002). 3 Tom Powers, personal communication, 11 March 2009. 4 Bennet M. Allen, ‘Notes on the Spiny Lobster (Panulirus interruptus) of the California Coast’, University of California Publications in Zoology, XVI/12 (17 March 1916), p. 139. 5 Kevin Lewand, personal communication, 30 July 2009, Monterey, California. 6 Jules Verne, The Complete Twenty