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Monday, May 27, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name

If you live on the eastern seaboard of the US, you are bracing for (or experiencing) the arrival of the Brood II cicadas. As the author of “Cooking with Cicadas”, I think we have to give this low fat, high protein food source a new image to make it more palatable to North American tastes.

It’s been done before. Ever ordered Chilean Sea Bass at a restaurant? A delicious fish, but few in the US would buy it as food before the name was changed for marketing purposes. The real name? Well before it got a marketing makeover, Chilean Sea Bass was known as Patagonian toothfish.
According to Wikipedia, the name "Chilean sea bass" was invented by a fish wholesaler named Lee Lantz in 1977 when he was looking for a name that would make it attractive to the American market. He considered "Pacific sea bass" and "South American sea bass" before settling on "Chilean sea bass”. In 1994, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted "Chilean sea bass" as an "alternative market name" for Patagonian toothfish.

And along the U.S. Atlantic Coast, fishermen used to toss back an unattractive, toad-colored fish that has been described as 30 percent mouth and 50 percent belly: the goosefish. When somebody discovered that the tail could be cut into filets that tasted good, they renamed it “monkfish” and harvests grew about 5 times from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s.
A name change worked for the “orange roughy”, too. Maybe that name isn’t as appealing as “Chilean sea bass” but it’s a darn site more marketable than its original name: the slimehead.

I suggest we change the name from “cicada” to “land lobster”.

The cicada is an arthropod. Americans eat other arthropods like lobsters, shrimp and crawfish. So, I think “land lobster” is a strong candidate for a marketing makeover.

So let’s unite and get the name changed. The first step is buying my cookbook: “Cooking with Cicadas” in either paperback or the Kindle edition. In fact, buy copies for your friends, too.
Come to think of it, how ‘bout you just buy the books and forget the name change ... to tell you the truth, the whole name change idea was just foundation from which I could suggest you buy  "Cooking with Cicadas". And a reason to tell you the story of the Patagonian toothfish, which I find both interesting (and slightly horrifying) how a simple name change can alter human behavior).

NOTE: Personally, I avoid eating seafood like Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, monkfish and other species that have been overfished; and I will continue  do so until those species have recovered to a safe and sustainable level. As far as I know, the cicadas aren’t in danger of being over-harvested; and I question whether enough people are going to eat enough of them to cause major ecological damage.

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