I posted this photo of me eating crawfish at Quality Seafood, one of my favorite restaurants here in Austin, and @kodychamberlain responded:
When I was a poor kid growing in Thibodaux, Louisiana, crawfish was a poor man's food. It was a little embarrassing to tell people you ate crawfish because they'd laugh. You'd certainly never find crawfish in a restaurant, that'd be laughable. Through the years crawfish became socially acceptable and widely consumed, and that created scarcity. It's since become an expensive delicacy that the poor can rarely afford. I heard that for the first time Texas consumed more crawfish than Louisiana...
Which reminded me of the history of lobster I first read about in David Foster Wallace's Consider The Lobster (here's the original article, written for Gourmet), but explained more in-depth in Mother Jones:
â€œIn colonial North America, [lobster] was most commonly found in the dinner troughs of pigs, cows, and goats, its shells ground up and scattered over the rest of the farm as manure. William Wood, a British historian visiting Canadaâ€™s Newfoundland in the early 17th century said dismissively of local lobsters: â€˜Their plenty makes them little esteemed and seldom eaten [except by the Indians who] get many of them every day for to baite their hooks withal and to eat when they can get no bass.â€™
Indeed, it's no exaggeration to say that people were downright ashamed to eat lobster. â€œLobster shells about a house are looked upon as signs of poverty and degradation,â€ wrote American observer John Rowan in the mid-19th century. Peddlers in Portland, Maine carried lobsters around in wheelbarrows, selling them on the street to working class Irish immigrants. In one Massachusetts town, a group of indentured servants became so upset at their lobster-heavy diet that they took their masters to court and won a judgment protecting them from having to eat it more than three times a week.â€
The next sentence is worth emphasizing: â€œIt was the abundance of lobster that made it boring.â€
Now I'm thinking: What's abundant and boring now that one day might be scarce and exotic?