When is a lobster salad not actually a lobster salad? For the past twenty years the answer to that question was "When you buy it at Zabar's." But times they are a-changing. No less than Saul Zabar himself tells us that because of some complaining that started in New Orleans, the famous food store's "lobster salad" (which was technically made with crayfish) has been renamed "seafare salad." But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Last month New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Doug MacCash came to town and tried the store's lobster salad. But he was offended to see that the store was selling a crayfish salad for $16.95 a pound...and calling it lobster. So he wrote about it. That story got picked up and now, Zabar tells us, folks from every corner of the media universe have been calling him to ask questions. Even a man from the Maine Lobster Council ("which," according to Zabar, "turns out to be one gentleman") called to complain. The FDA, after all, has rules about what you can call a lobster. And crayfish does not count.
But all of the hubbub caught Zabar by surprise, as his store has been selling its version of lobster salad for at least twenty years. And "if truth be told, maybe in the course of the last ten years I've gotten two or three complaints that this is not the lobster people had in mind. But very few. Extremely few. Mostly because the ingredients are in bold letters on the label of the product. There really shouldn't be any confusion if somebody were to pick it up" (well, not quite bold, as you can see above). And anyway, he insists that in many parts of the country people refer to crayfish as lobster—though not in New Orleans.
However valid he feels his salad's name was, however, Zabar is no fool and recognizes that all the media attention means it is probably time to change the name. So earlier this week the company started the process or renaming the product "seafare salad," once the name of a surimi salad that store discontinued a few years back. Those labels seem to be taking their sweet time getting on the product and, for the foreseeable future, Zabar tells us the sign by the containers will continue to say "lobster salad" as Zabar's customers "need time to adjust." Still, whatever you call it, on a roll Zabar's salad still tastes better than any of these.