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"A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne, the only true feminine and becoming viands."
~ George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Lord Byron was certainly never at a loss for words or strong opinions! But he does reflect a time when lobster was viewed as the most refined of delicacies. However, this was not always the case. Lobster fishing has taken place all over the world near coastal waters since prehistoric times with evidence going back 35,000 - 100,000 years! Historians suggest lobster was an important secondary food source for most European coastal dwellers and a primary food source for coastal communities in Britain. Depending on the time period, lobster has been considered to be a staple food, a delicacy only for the aristocracy, or a poverty food or a food suitable for indentured servants or lower members of society! Nowadays, popularity of lobster is such that lobster populations are monitored and are part of farming aquaculture. This tartan was created by the Cape Sable Historical Society to celebrate Lobster Fishery, the heart of the economy in Nova Scotia, Canada. It is intended to recognise the contribution of lobster fishers, their families and related industries to culture and heritage. The bright coloration and pinching claws of lobsters has been favored as a subject for artists and illustrators in serious, commercial, and humorous works since the time of the Dutch Masters! 🦞 🦞 🦞 🧈
From the site: The American Lobster
Even before the Europeans arrived on the shores to settle in the “ New World”, the Mic Mac (Mi’kmaq) and Maleseet Indians of Atlantic Canada had been fishing the seas for lobster for hundreds of years. Long ago, lobsters were so plentiful that they often were found on the beach at low tide, and would wash up on shore in large storms. The tasty crustacean was known as “Wolum Keeh” to the Mic Macs, and was a source of food, fertilizer, and ornamental material. Hilton McCully wrote in his 1995 book, Pictou Island, “in the harbour of Cibou (Sydney, Cape Breton) in 1597, one haul of a little dragnet brought up 140 lobsters.” It is quite amazing to think that in just 400 years the lobster population has declined so greatly that if you were to throw a net out now you would be lucky to get any at all!
Long ago, before traps were used, lobsters were fished from the shallow waters by spearing or gaffing. Fishermen hunted for lobsters by torch light on calm evenings, spearing them as they crawled around in search of food. During the day they would spread a slick of oil over the surface of the water darkening the water below, and then throw out cod heads for bait. The lobsters would swarm around the bait and the fishermen would spear them. Although there was no real commercial market for lobster at this time, some fishermen did sell their catch to make money. Because the lobsters were worth more if there were no spear marks in them, the fishermen began using wire cages to trap the animals so they could get a better price. These wire cages were adapted from the Europeans who used them to catch crayfish and Spiny lobsters. There was such an abundance of lobster long ago that it was not a valued commodity and was considered a poor man’s food. It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th Century that the lobster industry began to flourish.
This tartan was designed by Linda Symonds for the Cape Sable Historical Society.
For more on lobsters in art, click the lobster painting by Yana Movchan.