Food & drink

When did Lobster Become Food for the Rich?

Read on below as we highlight three posh foods that come from far more humble origins...
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One of the very (very) few positive sides to global warming is that our steadily warming seas currently mean cheaper lobster, all the better for gourmets and gourmands to slather in garlic butter and wolf down. What we may not realise is that a hundred years ago it would have been the equivalent of eating a Pot Noodle. Read on below as we highlight three posh foods that come from far more humble origins...

Truffles – common as muck...

The 19th century was a good century for truffle lovers. In The Truffle Book, writer Gareth Renowden says harvests were so good that donkeys were required to transport the goods – whereas today’s truffle hunters can often carry their harvest to London’s smartest restaurants in both hands. Because of the boom truffles were relatively inexpensive and cookery books of the time used truffles like we use tomatoes.

British truffles are coming back into fashion and the country’s foragers are spending many a happy weekend in the woods searching them out. Contrary to French tradition ,a pig is not necessary in order to find them as they grow fairly obviously under trees. According to a recent report by, Truffle UK, the fungi tend to grow best in the Chilterns and North and South Downs, as well as Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset. The area between Hull and Lincoln is also a prime location.

Why not go on your own truffle hunt? We’ve got lots of great hotels in the Chiltern District in particular such as the riverside retreat of The Watermill Hotel, Sure Hotel Collection by Best Western.

Lobster - old fashioned pot Noodles and spam

Lobster wasn’t always posh so when did it become food for the rich? They crustacean only become fashionable to eat n Europe after the mid-18th century. Before then there were so many in the shallow seas that they could be hooked, collected with wooden tongs or netted. Lobster was so abundant in the first few centuries of modern America’s existence that it was considered trash food. It was only when railways were built that Americans inland started to get a taste for it. As a consequence, demand went up, supplies went down and prices rose – until the Depression, when no could afford it. By the time of the Second World War, it was back in cans and being shipped to soldiers on the front line like spam. In the 1950s demand and prices soared once more and lobster has been seen as a delicacy ever since.

Most of the lobster we eat in the UK now comes from the North Atlantic and that’s probably where your supermarket dinner has its origins. If you want it fresh from the sea then Cornwall might be your best choice. The country even has its own National Lobster Hatchery. Padstow is famous for its seafood restaurants including the one owned by Rick Stein, but you can find delicious lobster all along the coast. Book a stay at the wonderful  Porth Veor Manor, Sure Hotel Collection by Best Western near Newquay and explore the tastiest food with claws around.

Oysters - snacking food for the paupers

Just like lobster, oysters were once a food of the poor. In Charles Dickens’ the Pickwick Papers, Sam Weller remarks to Mr Pickwick that “It is very remarkable circumstances, Sir that poverty and oysters always seem to go together.” In the 19th Century and earlier, oysters were served with beer in taverns, battered, fried in soups and pies. The practice of swallowing them whole came about because so many people disliked the texture. Despite that, over-consumption lad to a lack of supply and by the twentieth century the posh wanted in.

Want to sample some of the best and freshest oysters in Great Britain? Gurneys Fish shop at Burnham Market in Norfolk is the place to go. Based in a charming little village, this brightly painted shop is as traditional as they come and is now a Mecca for seafood of all kinds, attracting fans from all over the country. If you want to visit then stay the Old Hunstanton Le Strange Arms Hotel, BW Signature Collection and enjoy the rest of the best that Norfolk has to offer.

In fact, all these so called ‘posh’ treats can be found up and down the country at Best Western hotels, so get stuck in and book your next foodie getaway today.

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