The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

Some of the best tastes are junk food

Green is the lobster, fresh from the sea.When are Buffalo Wings not Buffalo wings?

When they’re made from pressed-together pieces of chicken other than wings.

The lore is that when a bar owner near Buffalo ran out of other snack food, she poured some of her special hot sauce on a bunch of chicken wings and served them up with bleu cheese and celery. The wings were a hit. Soon, bars and Hooters across the nation were serving them. Most people don’t know the name of the bar. Many people don’t know they are called Buffalo Wings because the bar was in Buffalo, New York.

But they sure were popular. So popular, in fact, that across the nation there is a shortage of chicken wings. So someone else invented boneless chicken wings – which are not chicken wings at all, a heavy application of hot sauce notwithstanding.

I read a short article the other day about eating lobster in Texas. Lobster is from Maine. For the past few years, She Who Must Be Obeyed has directed that I make a left turn one road short of the last path to where we would spend two weeks watching lobster boats pull their traps. It’s the end of a 12-hour, two-day, drive from home. One might think Herself would be ready to finish the trip, but the bayside porch can wait.

A stop at Shaw’s is mandated, where, on a pier overlooking the by-then moored fishing boats, one might savor the scrumptious stuffings of the bright red crustacean, pulled fresh from the depths of Muscongus Bay. Well, scrumptious to her, anyway. I prefer steamed clams and raw oysters.

Lobster also have not always enjoyed the high tariff of tourist tastes. Like chicken wings, they once were served to poor people, prisoners and servants. Several states reportedly had laws against too often serving lobster – which technically are hard-shelled arachnids, a family that includes spiders, crabs and barnacles – to prisoners. Native Americans once served them, along with other fish considered less than tasty and nutritious, to their gardens. When I was young, we kids practiced our fishing skills on Bluegill sunfish, which we fed to our family garden.

Sometime in the late 1800s, gentlemen in their top hats and their gauzily dressed ladies discovered lobster and the rest, as they say, is what led to over fishing and some severe limits on hauling ‘em in. The lobstering is pretty much back now, and the critters are so popular that a roadside maker of lobster rolls – chunks of lobster in a large hotdog bun – has been featured on “60 Minutes” at least twice.

Oysters, by the way, also once enjoyed the cheap seats at the bottom of the culinary spectrum. They look like rocks when they are in the wild, and they are really hard to shuck – the word for prying open their shell and eating the little devils raw.

Truth: Raw oysters are really good, especially when washed down with a foamy glass of porter beer.

Also True: They do nothing for the human libido, other than what might be realized from sharing a dozen of them and another glass of porter.

The moral of the story is, “Try it, you (may) like it.” I’ve wandered around a significantly large portion of the planet, and discovered calamari (fried squid) in Spain, bamboo-wrapped sweet rice in Thailand, and a host of other delicacies I’d not have thought of before going there.

One thing I’ve learned for certain: Beer is best drunk within 25 miles of its brewery. And half the fun of Buffalo Chicken Wings is sucking the meat off the bones.


  1. Oysters make great hangover food too. As long as you aren’t sensitive to the texture.

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