Friday, September 02, 2011

A "Zobster" By Any Other Name

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In the world of fake fish "look alikes" being served up everday in delis across America, there has now been a newsworthy discovery. And just let me add here that I, for one, am giddily overjoyed about it. (Yes, that's right, giddily overjoyed, I really am, so there!)

It seems that for at least 15 years, Zabar’s, the Upper West Side grocery with the big crowds and even bigger prices, sold that as lobster salad — thousands and thousands of pounds of it, by itself in a plastic tub or on a bagel or a roll. Apparently no one noticed.
Then Doug MacCash, a reporter from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, stopped at Zabar’s while vacationing in Manhattan last month.

“Lobster salad on a bagel: Why not?” he wrote on Aug. 1 on the newspaper’s Web site. “It was delicious, but the pink/orange tails seemed somehow familiar.” (Oh, that telltale pink/orange stuff. Yeah, Don. Been there, know exactly how that feels.)
He checked the label. “Wild fresh water crayfish?” he wrote. “Really? At $16.95 per pound?” He photographed the label, just to be sure.

Mr. MacCash had discovered a fact of New York culinary life that New Yorkers had not: There was no lobster in the lobster salad at Zabar’s.

When questioned, the upscale deli owner, Saul Zabar claimed: "If you go to Wikipedia, you will find that crawfish in many parts of the country is referred to as lobster.”

Really, Mr. Zabar?

Fast-forward and interesting to note, that owner Saul Zabar then took measures to rename their bogus salad as: Seafarer Salad. But Mr. Zabar himself admits this particular title was once used for a Zabar's salad made of that spongy-tasting stuff we all know as "copy crab." You know, that awful "fish gum" made of chopped pollack and cornstarch (and possibly a dab or two of Elmer's glue), pressed together to dupe folks into thinking they're eating real, bona fide, "crabmeat."

Okay, now fast-fast forward to the latest report in the saga of the fake lobster salad (come on, let's just call it what it is folks, why waste time playing with words here?) Mr. Zabar has now re-renamed his lobsterless creation to: the Zabster Zalad. (Huh??)

The main ingredient remains the same: wild freshwater crawfish. Like the lobsterless lobster salad before it, “zabster zalad” also contains mayonnaise, celery, salt and sugar.

“It’s a combination of lobster and Zabar,” said Mr. Zabar of the new title.“We could have called it Zobster salad, but our name is Zabar’s. And instead of the word ‘salad,’ we put a Z in there.”

And for the record, he pronounced “zabster” to rhyme with Napster, the music-sharing service, not the ingredient that his lobster salad never had.

Gotta tell you, $16.95 per pound for "zabster"? Thanks, Mr. Zabar, but I think I'll pass.

Sigh.

Anyway, read more here ...and here