What do you know about the knobbly armoured, scarlet creature staring back at you from your fancy dinner plate? Since there are species of lobsters without claws, then what exactly is a lobster? To answer these questions Richard J. King, a former fishmonger and commercial lobsterman, has chronicled the creature's long and complex history.
Lobster takes us on a journey through the history, biology, cuisine and culture of lobsters, and their economic and environmental status worldwide. King describes how the lobster is an international commodity, and how the American lobster fishery is arguably one of the last healthy wild fisheries left on Earth. The author describes the evolution of technologies to capture these creatures, and addresses the ethics of boiling them alive. He also explores the salacious lobster palaces of the 1920s, as well as the animal’s thousand-year status as an aphrodisiac, and how it has inspired numerous artists, writers and thinkers including Aristotle, Dickens, Thoreau, Dalí and Woody Allen.
Lobster is an essential read for anyone with an appetite for the world’s best-known and most delicious crustacean. In this carefully researched and highly readable account for both the scholar and the more casual reader, King travels from Hawaii to Maine, and from Scotland to Western Australia, to describe the human connection with the lobster, from ocean bottom to buttery plate.
Reviews of Lobster
"[An] elegant little history . . . King’s witty and erudite portrait, illustrated with a wealth of images that demonstrate his passionate knowledge of his subject, may leave us feeling that the lobster deserves to be treated with more dignity. But provided our dinner has been traditionally caught, rapidly delivered and responsibly prepared, this book should only enhance our enjoyment." – New York Times
"In Lobster, Richard King, a self-proclaimed “lobsterologist” (a word he invented, I think – I love it), offers a more personal excursion into the subject . . . Mr. King also introduces a great deal of cultural history, touching on a broad range of topics related to lobsters, including the lives of fishermen (or lobstermen, as we call them in New England), lobster-fishing techniques, and the role of lobsters in art . . . skillfully written."
– Jasper White, Wall Street Journal
"King offers a fascinating view of the life of a culinary delicacy . . . If you're a fan of the garlic-buttered king of crustaceans, then get hold of Lobster . . . I can't say I was that interested in lobsters before reading this book. But I am now." – The Scotsman
"The 41st title in one of our favourite series, the small, short but richly illustrated Animal books from Reaktion, is Lobster. Joining a roster that so far ranges alphabetically and in size of subject from Ant to Whale, Lobster considers the tasty crustacean’s culinary, natural and social history." – Toronto Star
"A welcome appetizer for this year’s stack of summer reading . . . sit back and savor this book of lobsteriana with a glass of zinfandel and a shore dinner. Just be careful not to drip any butter on the pages – others in the family will want to read it, too." – Natural History
"Engaging and very well written" – The Age, Melbourne
"Lobster takes its readers on a thoroughly researched, engagingly written tour of the anatomy of both the creature and our imaginings of it. The lobster, King explains, has existed simultaneously as the poor man’s bread and the rich man’s butter for centuries – a symbol of both hard life and decadence, as illustrated by the book’s rich offering of glossy 19th-century anatomical drawings, water-colored portraits, and photographs of seamen at work, trawling for 'bugs.'” – Sierra Magazine
"Lobster is the latest in a series of books dissecting the life histories of various animals . . . There are no recipes, but you’ll learn about other lobster species worldwide and how they are used for food, and see lots of fun lobster-related memorabilia, from a lobster telephone to photos of naked women (one with Salvador Dalí) with lobsters covering their private parts." – Portland Press Herald
"The lobsterman with 40 years of hauling under his belt, the marine biologists with a career of research behind them, and the lobster-loving diner who enjoys a well placed arcane anecdote at a dinner table with friends and family, will all likely find something they didn’t know about lobster in Lobster . . . packed with facts and in-depth coverage of various lobster topics." – Fisherman’s Voice
"King ranges widely and deeply . . . He is particularly good at conveying something of the dedication and enthusiasm of those people who have over the years devoted themselves to studying the lobster" --Inside.org.au