In order to discover which of the plants and animals around us are good to eat, some brave soul has to go first. Fortunately for us, most of the testing has already been done, and we can find out what’s edible by checking Wikipedia. Our ancestors, though, had to bite the bullet and go with trial and error, hoping that the errors would be few and non-fatal.
Starvation is a powerful incentive to risk those errors, but even the prospect of a slow, lingering death wasn’t enough to convince some of Cape Cod’s earliest British settlers to try the lobsters, which you could apparently pluck right off the beaches. There were members of the Plymouth colony who preferred eating nothing to eating lobster, and expired dreaming of steak-and-kidney pie.
Now, I can understand an unwillingness to cook up something that looks like a giant cockroach, with menacing claws and a bad disposition, but if the alternative is death? Come on.
Fast forward four hundred years, and you’ll find an Irishman and a Jew (no Mayflower roots here!) heading into Cape Cod Bay, braving water and weather in the hopes of pulling a few lobsters up from the depths. As we speak, there are ten lobster pots at the bottom of the bay with our name on them – well, with our license number on them, at any rate. With any luck, some lobsters have spent the last 48 hours crawling in and not crawling out.
Kevin and I are well-fed, and we have access to a wide variety of food at the supermarket down the road. We are nevertheless going to spend the morning taking an open boat out on some serious chop and hauling fifty-pound traps up through fifty feet of water in the pursuit of something that looks like a giant cockroach, with menacing claws and a bad disposition.
Recreational lobstering, this is called.
If the Pilgrims had starved just a little longer, maybe we could still pluck them off the beaches.