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What's In a Name - Zabar's Style

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What's in a name? What's not in their "lobster salad?" Turns out lobster was the missing ingredient. 20 years of titling it "lobster salad" and using crayfish in place of the missing lobby was caught by a writer from the Big Easy who noticed that the list showed no lobster: http://online.wsj.com/article/AP48183...

Only in NY? lol At least out here in LA when the dearly departed "Hump" told you they were giving you "whale sushi" they meant it (even though when the news got out it killed the restaurant...at least they gave you what was promised). ;-D>

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  1. Such an interesting story, not least because the main ingredient of the lobster salad was always listed as crayfish. And Saul Zabar's "defense" of the mislabeling truly boggles the mind.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/12/nyr...

    1 Reply
    1. re: small h

      "And Saul Zabar's "defense" of the mislabeling truly boggles the mind."

      Add that to the fact that his new name "Seafare Salad" is still wide of the truthiness mark since crayfish are fresh water critters and you see a man who never let the facts get in the way of marketing.

    2. As someone who grew up a few blocks from Zabar's, this won't make me love it any less. At least he was using crayfish and not fake crab. ;-)

      Edited to add that I'm not condoning this behavior or saying I don't care. It's pretty darned lame.

      1. Sad. Sad.

        I wonder how many people who were buying it all this time noticed the discrepancy between the name of the dish and the ingredients list.

        1. http://www.lobsterfrommaine.com/newsd...

          article from the Maine Lobster Council

          CH's often discuss the importance of reading labels, understanding what you're paying for and taking responsibility for what you eat.

          For a deli of this reputation and longevity to be selling salad at a premium with casual concern for truth in advertising says alot about what consumers buy and how closely they pay attention (even for a high end item). This particular salad could have gone on forever labeled this way if it weren't for the trained palette of a "CH."

          Announcements like this only serve to remind us all to read every label and ask what we're buying.

          http://www.dnainfo.com/20110811/upper...

          1. I just finished reading the article and six pages of responses.

            There's one thing missing from the responders who keep calling crawfish cheap. A pound of southern Crawfish aren't anywhere near $4 a pound unless they're still in their shells. Imported from someplace where you don't know what was in the water....those are the cheap ones. Also, crawfish aren't going to be fresh when they are out of season, so all those tons of salads for quite a few months of the year were using frozen crawfish and probably haven't been from the USA for at least a decade.

            1. Let me retract my previous post.

              At least on the most recent version of the label before the name change, it's not like the ingredients were listed in tiny print that you couldn't read.

              You won't see it in the WSJ online article, but there's a photo of the label with the NY Times article.
              The label clearly stated "wild fresh water crayfish" in fairly large print and right below the name of the dish.
              http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/201...

              So calling it "lobster salad" is misleading, but perhaps less misleading than it might have been with a different style of label.

              I guess anyone misled by the label either didn't read it, or thought the crayfish was an ingredient *in addition to* the (non-existent) lobster?

              1 Reply
              1. re: racer x

                Then why not call it "Crayfish Salad" in that case? Perhaps because the concept of "Lobster" sells better me thinks... ;-D>

              2. Zabar's isn't the only one. My local Japanese grocery, Sakura-ya, sells "lobster salad" also made from crayfish. In some respects, its not bad...the crayfish works well, texture-wise, and the salad covers up for its lack of flavor. And at least Zabars said "crayfish" even if it was in small letters. But I do not believe it is wild. Except for the live crawdads I see in markets in the spring, all....and I mean all...crayfish I see is farmed in China.

                1. New Yorkers who read labels have always known this--it's there in big print right on the same label that says "Lobster Salad," and it's not easy to miss. I'm pretty sure that once upon a time the first ingredient listed was not crayfish, but langoustine (which is also not lobster as we know it).

                  1. Not excusable (although how much pork is there in a can of "Pork and Beans"? Calling it lobster salad but labeling the ingredients honestly is an over the line sales gimmick, but not exactly a war crime).

                    1. So, I assume this must be true of the lobster rolls at Nathan's in Coney Island as well? Because, if true, I guess I should be outraged but I'm pretty sure I don't care. They are delicious and at six bucks apiece it's not like I feel like I'm being gouged in any way if I'm getting a crayfish roll rather than an actual lobster roll.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                        In a city that requires some restaurants to display calorie information...it boggles my mind that no fine has been mentioned.

                        Guess what I know and expect a Big Mac to be caloric and I expect something labeled Lobster Salad to be Lobster.

                        1. re: cstumiller

                          There's a difference between the name and label.