Do you remember the first time you tried lobster?

Since I grew up in Maine, I can't say I remember the first time I had it. It was just a staple for all special occasions in my house. Graduate from school? Lobster! Coming home for a visit after months and months? Lobster! It's a day ending in "Y" and you feel like a treat? Lobster is always the answer.

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I do understand that there are some people who just don't like it. In fact, if I think too hard about it, I get easily grossed out. Really, it's like a giant, macroscopic bug that lives in the ocean. It's an aquatic arachnid that makes you wonder how you'd feel about eating it, if it didn't live in the water. Would you eat it if it were a land creature?

Lobster wasn't always the supreme delicacy it is now.

Growing up in the meat cutting world, there are cuts of meat today that no one would've cared about years ago. Like the hanger steak... It's the diaphragm of the cow. It's a weird muscle that's kinda hard to get to, and if you think about it too hard, it feels like you're eating something you shouldn't be. But it's super tender, well-marbled, and delicious.

Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash
Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

To that end, there was a time when lobster was considered utter trash. To the point that there was allegedly a Maine law that set a limit on how many times a week you could serve lobsters to prison inmates. Can you imagine being served lobster in jail these days? It would only qualify as a death row last meal. But is it really just urban legend?

Lobster was even used as fertilizer... Or was it?

Years ago, there were all these other supposed uses for lobster. On the other hand, some research indicates that none of this was necessarily true. Some historians believe that no prisoner away from the coast would receive lobster, and it was also so labor intensive to prepare, that it would be impractical to serve in prisons.

Prison Hands 2
Dan Bannister

Some even believe the "nasty" food in question was salmon, but there's no source to back it up. Regardless, as the years went by, lobster became much more valuable. As it became easier to ship them fresh to other parts of New England and New York, their value increased. Fast forward to today, and it's one of Maine's best performing industries.

READ MORE: Are You From Maine if You Don't Know How to Put Lobster to Sleep?

So while the jury may officially may be out on the history of Maine lobster, those who like it, enjoy it whenever possible. At least we live in a place where it's not ridiculously expensive. Mainers can enjoy it as much as we want, and only go sort of broke. There's the silver lining...

Stay hungry, my friends. And eat lobster rolls...

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