If we were rational in our food preferences, we would all be subsisting on beans, seaweed and preparations of cricket flour. But we are not entirely rational creatures. Habit, associations and cultural context are as important as flavor and aroma in determining our food choices.
New England settlers brought their English food prejudices with them. Venison, turkey and swans they considered high-status foods because they had graced princely tables in the Old World. Mussels, oysters, and eels were familiar favorites for English palates.
In the early days of coastal settlements, large lobsters were so plentiful and easy to catch that they were taken for granted and sometimes associated with poverty. Only gradually did the crustacean become a high-status food.
In 1858, when Mary Peabody Mann published “Christianity in the Kitchen: A Physiological Cook-Book,” she apparently did not consider lobster a prestigious food. She included a recipe for shrimp pie that disguised lobster with tomato and breadcrumbs to substitute for shrimp. The recipe that she called corn pie was actually a lobster and corn pie and quite a good one. Following is my adaptation of her recipe.