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Lobsters and Lobsters
When is a lobster not a lobster? When it is a crayfish. This question and answer might well go into the primer of information for those who come to San Francisco from the East, for what is called a lobster in San Francisco is not a lobster at all but a crayfish. The true lobster is not found in the Pacific along the California coast, and so far efforts at transplanting have not been successful. The Pacific crayfish, however, serves every purpose, and while many contend that its meat is not so delicate in flavor as that of its eastern cousin, the Californian will as strenuously insist that it is better, but, of course, something must always be allowed for the patriotism of the Californian.
Lobster, served cold with mayonnaise, or broiled live lobster are most frequently called for, and while they are both excellent, we find so many other ways of preparing this crustacean that we rarely take the common variety of lobster dishes into consideration. Probably nowhere in San Francisco could one get lobster better served than in the Old Delmonico restaurant of the days before the fire. A book could be written about this restaurant and then all would not be told for all its secrets can never be known.
In New York City they have what they are pleased to call "Lobster Palaces," but there is not a restaurant in that great metropolis that could approach the Delmonico of San Francisco in its splendid service and its cuisine arrangements; neither could they approach the romance that always surrounded the O'Farrell street restaurant. It was here that most magnificent dinners were arranged; it was here that extraordinary dishes were concocted by chefs of world-wide fame; it was here that Lobster a la Newberg reached its highest perfection, and this is the recipe that was followed when it was prepared in the Delmonico:
Lobster a la Newberg
One pound of lobster meat, one teaspoonful of butter, one-half pint of cream, yolks of four eggs, one wine glass of sherry, lobster fat. Three hours before cooking pour the sherry over the lobster meat and let it stand until ready to cook. Heat the butter and stir in with the lobster and wine, then place this in a stewpan, or chafing dish, and cook for eight minutes. Have the yolks of eggs well beaten and add to them the cream and lobster fat, stir well and then stir in a teaspoonful of flour. Put this in a double boiler and let cook until thick, stirring constantly. When this is cooked pour it over the lobster and let all cook together for three minutes. Serve in a chafing dish with thin slices of dry toast.