Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Great Lobster Boil Of 1989


It's no secret that many of the best stories from figure skating's history don't even take place on the ice. In the case of today's blog, the drama wasn't even unfolding in the stands, the judge's room or the dressing room. It was unfolding in the kitchen.

At the 1989 World Figure Skating Championships in Paris, France, the Canadian Figure Skating Association (in conjunction with the local organizing committee for the 1990 World Championships in Halifax) planned a reception for two hundred and fifty people to promote the 1990 World Championships here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Guests came from from thirty four different countries and included ISU representatives, marketing representatives, major television network officials, skaters and sponsors. There were engraved pins with the logo for the 1990 World Championships; there was a video advertising how fabulous Halifax is. There was also a problem.

As for the menu, in the May 1989 issue of "The Dartmouth Monthly", Joanne Byrne explained that "we wanted something Nova Scotian and Europeans consider lobster a rare delicacy... a taste of the hospitality they can expect in Nova Scotia." Byrne, a Nova Scotian skating judge and longtime supporter of skating here in the province, had helped coordinated the shipment of three hundred and forty pounds of Nova Scotia lobster to Paris for the reception. It was supposed to have arrived ready to serve. Instead, she had to get a ridiculous amount of live lobsters through French Customs and figure out how to cook them. With her limited French, she manage to convince Paris chefs to help with the dilemma and cook the crustaceans. However, the French chefs weren't down with simply boiling the lobster. They insisted on laying it flat on the serving platters. To do this, Byrne said "they wrapped every last lobster tail mummy-style to keep the tails from curling during cooking."

As if this all wasn't enough to make someone want to jump into the pot with those delectable crustaceans, the Parisian chefs were taken aback at the suggestion of serving the lobsters with melted butter (as is of course customary) and instead opted to make two elaborate butter sculptures: a lion's head and a butter bust of Louis XIV to decorate the tables. Imagine! Lobster laments aside, the reception was a huge hit with everyone in attendance other than those who ended up boiling in a pot and getting smeared with a knife full of butter from the side of Louis XIV's head.

All event tickets were sold out well in advance of the 1990 World Championships and inspired by the Paris lobster boil, visitors to Halifax during the 1990 World Championships were treated to a Nova Scotia lobster dinner, Maritime music and hospitality throughout the 1990 World Championships at an event held at J.J. Rossy's called "Lobsters On Skates". Proceeds from the event, sponsored by Clearwater Lobster, supported the Halifax YMCA. As we all know, the Halifax Worlds proved to be one of the most exciting and fondly remembered World Championships in the nineties. All thanks to the Nova Scotia lobster? Clearly!

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