2017 might have felt like the year of the oyster (thanks for nothing, Eventide + Island Creek), but according to 16,000 words I harvested from nationally-circulated magazines and blogs*, “lobster(s)” were mentioned 35% more frequently than “oyster(s)”.
I guess Maine is still Maine and people are still unduly obsessed with the mealy mush the upper crust insists on considering “gourmet”.
*Text from 14 sources (i.e. individual articles, not 14 publications). Find me more text and I’ll find you more data 🙂
More to the point, this is actually a kind of interesting piece of information. If we assume my corpus is decently representative of the kind of travel/food writing that potential visitors to Maine might read (sources include Bon Appétit, Travel and Leisure, Vogue, and Zagat, among others) and we assume that this relationship will scale if the corpus is made larger (i.e., the basic relationship between chatter about oysters and chatter about lobsters is not an outlier), then we have a good sense of what tourists might want to eat when they come to Maine. Because everyone just goes where and eats what the NYT 36 Hour thing says, anyway.
And if we know what tourists might want to eat, all one or two million of them per year, we know which fisheries will continue to be in demand, which restaurants and neighborhoods will be popular, and where all that damn money is going. Because it’s certainly not going towards snow removal or pot hole repair 😉
Chalk this one up the Maine Lobster Council (or whatever), but their brand power is on point. It’s 2017, the year/decade of Eventide (who, by the way, had the most mentions in my corpus … duh), and even they can’t out-lobster the lobster. (But, they do have lobster on the menu, so they’re not helping the oyster cause, either.)
I’m interested to compare the trends in local food writing to the national ones. Is my personal sense that oysters are out-classing lobsters these days just a function of my distaste for lobster? Or are oysters more popular with locals, and lobsters more popular with tourists? Or am I just totally hallucinating?