Trevor Corson's (old) Lobster Blog

This is the old Lobster Blog of Trevor Corson, author of the worldwide pop-science bestseller The Secret Life of Lobsters. This blog is no longer active; it serves as an archive of Trevor's posts on lobsters from 2004-2006. Visit Trevor at his new website,

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Name: Trevor Corson
Location: New York, NY, United States

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Kill and Eat Ham, the World's Worst-Tasting Lobster

So now that Whole Foods Market has banned live lobster, what are our options? The animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) recommends that we eat "Mock Lobster." This is a lobster made of soybeans.

My mock lobster, post-defrost. (At least you can still buy butter at Whole Foods.)

What the heck, I thought. I'll try one. I went online to visit May Wah Vegetarian Healthy Food, Inc., the retailer in Chinatown in New York City listed on PeTA's "Lobster Liberation" website.

There is a long tradition of Chinese "mock meats" for Buddhists. Years ago in Hong Kong, I'd eaten at a Buddhist restaurant that served imitation meat that was quite delicious. So I was looking forward to testing PeTA's claim that the mock lobster sold by May Wah tasted "just like the real thing."

When the lobster arrived, still frozen and packed in styrofoam, the label said in Chinese: "Ham Giant Dragon Shrimp." That sounded like the sort of monster that might battle Godzilla.

Having studied Chinese some years ago, I knew that "dragon shrimp" was the word for lobster in Chinese, but why was it called a "ham" lobster? I was stumped.

I shot off a query about this "ham" word to a friend of mine, a gastronome who also has a Ph.D. in Chinese studies. (I will let you know what I find out.) In the meantime, to celebrate my confusion, I decided to name the lobster Ham.

As it happened, I had been invited to a weekend barbecue -- bring your own meat for the grill -- so I took Ham along. Everyone was very intrigued when I pulled Ham out and showed him around. A few people played with Ham.

Then we laid Ham on the grill.

Despite the searing heat, Ham didn't scream. He didn't writhe in pain, or snap his tail or scratch his legs on the grill in agony. He just sat there. We watched for a while, and then it got kind of boring and we went back to our conversations.

Click here for Ham's nutrition facts.
After a while I took Ham off the grill. He still looked fine.

Now the hard part. I had to cut him to pieces with a big kitchen knife. I have to tell you, I felt awful slicing Ham. In our short time together, we had bonded.

So how did Ham taste?

Ham, I love you, but you tasted terrible. I mean, not spit-your-food-out terrible, but just . . . very lackluster. After all that, I just would have liked even the tiniest bit of lobster-like flavor.

Having conclusively repudiated PeTA's claim that mock lobster tasted "just like the real thing," I felt forlorn. It seemed unfair that vegetarians and animal-rights activists wouldn't be able to enjoy lobster just like the rest of us.

Let's rip him apart!
So imagine my delight when I discovered that a book group populated by vegetarians had read THE SECRET LIFE OF LOBSTERS and celebrated with a lobster constructed of vegetables! "Although we were intimidated for a while," says the meeting's report about the veggie lobster, "we eventually tore him limb from limb."

If that still sounds too gory for you, I highly recommend May Wah's shredded mock chicken. It makes a delicious stir-fry. And it looks nothing like a chicken.


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