Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lobster Scrambled Eggs and My Father's Favorite Dinner Table Joke

This post's original title was, " Lobster Scrambled Eggs – I Wonder What the Poor People are Having for Breakfast Today?" Of course I would have explained this socially insensitive query in this first paragraph, but I feared that casual browsers would only read the headline and think I was some kind of major d-bag.

We certainly grew up around a ton of great food, but being of fairly modest means we only enjoyed expensive luxury foods like lobster or Prime Rib once in a great while. Whenever such occasions did present themselves, my father John would always use the same joke. He'd take a bite of whatever, and say to the table with a twinkle in his eye, "I wonder what the poor people are having for dinner tonight?"

We'd all laugh, but it was a more than a simple one-liner to him. The son of immigrants in rough and tumble New York City, he grew up in less than opulent surroundings. You could tell he loved being able to afford splurging on things like lobster once in a while, and I'm sure as we ate he thought back to much leaner times.

Anyway, enough with the selfish shellfish reminiscing. When and if you find yourself in possession of some leftover lobster meat, I suggest you do what I did in this video. By the way, feel free to borrow my dad's joke, but only if you're also from modest means, otherwise it's just not funny. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
handful of lobster pieces, cut in large chunks, dusted with cayenne
tarragon leaves, to taste
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

View the complete recipe

21 comments:

Jason said...

"I wonder what the poor people are having for dinner tonight?"

Awe... I thought that was a reference to olden times.

From Lobsterhelp.com:

Centuries ago in North America, lobsters were so plentiful that Native Americans used them to fertilize their fields and to bait their hooks for fishing. In colonial times, lobsters were considered "food for the poor." They were harvested from tidal pools and served to children, to prisoners, and to indentured servants, who exchanged their passage to America for seven years of service to their sponsors. In Massachusetts, some of the servants became so tired of eating lobster that they had it put into their contracts they would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

Jason said...

By the way, I wanted to ask, would you prefer to use your leftover lobster in a risotto or the scrambled eggs?

And if someone else doesn't ask: how did you wind up with so much leftover lobster? My Spidey-sense tells me another Food Wishes video with the master recipe is on the horizon.

cb said...

Very Nice Chef John..But a bit surprised--no pinch of cayanne or smoked paprika? No pat of butter to finish the eggs at the end? ;)

I have never done Lobster at home (not confident on how to cook/clean or cut up the critters on my own), but I do enjoy some tasty King and Stone Crab Legs when they are in season, and this gives me a great idea to do with some of that succulent meat beyond just eating right out of the shell. I think that meat would go great with eggs too--Thanks!

Pantalone said...

Well, here's to your father then. Cheers!

Laura said...

My grandfather says the same thing!! He was the son of immigrants in Rochester, NY. His family was really poor. But that man sure knows how to eat now. I bet he's going to love this one.

Big Dude said...

My Dad used to say that when he was particularly enjoying something and we were pretty near being the poor folks. I will put virtually everything in a scramble and sure I would love this.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

And here I thought I was the expert on lobster and eggs! You're always bursting my bubbles.

Funny, we just uncovered the boat and power-washed the lobster traps. They go out in the next couple of weeks. I'll tell the chickens to ramp up production, because I'm looking forward to trying this.

Resa said...

My father in law used the same phrase, only slightly different. We would go camping in the Rockies every summer, with him, and any time he was having fun, sitting by the campfire or fishing, he would say, "Wonder what the poor folks back home are doing?" We still camp every summer in the Rockies, and not a day goes by that we don't express the same saying.

Chef John said...

Tamar, I have a feeling you are still the lobster scrambled eggs expert! But to be certain, I'm going to need to make a trip to see your skills 1st hand. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Grew up in NJ and my father would say almost the exact same thing, His was " I wonder what the poor people are doing tonight" Since that was us we all knew the answer.

Chris K. said...

Leftover lobster just doesn't happen around here. It always gets finished the first time around.

Now crawfish, on the other hand...

Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane said...

Love this post. Having grown up outside of Boston where lobster was "common food", we ate it almost every weekend tossed in everything -- or just steeped in a big pool of butter.
I never knew quite how fortunate I really was at the time.

Looking forward to trying this next time Maine Lobster Direct decides to send a shipment. :)

Chef John said...

Thanks! I actually get annoyed when I hear food historians talking about how lobster used to be a common man's food staple, and that it was dirt cheap. :-)

Anonymous said...

We frequently use that phrase because we feel so lucky in life; however we also acknowledge that we ARE the poor people! :<)

BTW, about that sandwich cutting thing-----did I somehow miss it?
Jackie

Andy K. said...

Actually, John, from what I understand, lobster used to be a "poor man's food." I go to Maine every summer so I hear a lot of lobster stories. And the best that I've heard (it may or may not be true) is that, in Maine, it used to be illegal to serve lobsters to inmates more than once a week. It was considered inhumane! Lobsters were considered bizarre, insect-looking bottom dwellers, and they were not believed to be fit for consumption by sophisticated diners. Pretty crazy given the modern attitude on this tender shellfish. In any event, given your joke, I thought it was appropriate to tell the story. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Leftover lobster? Never heard of it.

Asian Malaysian said...

Im with anon on this. I know SF is the land flowing with milk and honey but leftover lobster too?! Having said that, I did once have an obscene amount of beluga caviar with Chachos and Gardenia sandwich loaf toasted points so I can dig the whole "Opulence, I has it" angle. I said once.

dni said...

Lobsters are not cheap.

Kevin said...

Can you tell me what recipes can we use with a whole 5lb lobster? We already ate it but its incase we get another lobster and we want a good recipe for it.

Rita said...

don't worry about your dad's table joke. i think, anyone who's older than us have used and are still using that line. i, for one, will use that line the day that i can afford to buy a pound of lobster here in germany. AHAHAHAHA!

one of the crustaceans that i miss. that lobster scrambled eggs look so good, though.

Scout said...

That is funny. In most of your recipes i have none of the ingredients, so my mom has to go and get them the next day (because i am only 16). But in this one I have all of them just lying around. So I am making this for Breakfast! : )