I get a kick out of menu writing, but sometimes it gets out of hand. Years ago, I think it was at the Mercury, I came across a dish that boasted “wind-dried” tomatoes. I’ve always chuckled at “baby lettuce” and brought my dinner companions to tears by ordering “teenage squash” or “middle-aged mushrooms.” There are endless possibilities for romanticizing any dish.
But seriously, when you read “diver scallops” on a menu don’t you imagine some hunky dude in a Speedo and snorkel gear skimming the ocean floor. He pauses briefly to inspect each scallop before he gently picks it up and places it in a velvet box on ice. Next stop? Your plate.
I got curious when Urbano Café announced earlier today that they were serving diver scallops. I don’t know a whole lot, but I do know that there is no commercial diver scallop season open at the moment. Scallops are now being harvested by boats that rake the bottom to harvest. The guys on the boat are not wearing Speedos or singing this song.
So, I contacted my buddy Willy at Steve Connolly Seafood in Boston to see what is open now. He says:
Areas where they are being harvested by boat [now] are DelMarva (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia) , Elephant Trunk (Delaware), Area 2 (Georges Bank) etc. [See map.] This is a highly regulated fishery and that is why there are seasons and openings and closings of areas to ensure the exploitable biomass maintains.
Doesn’t sound quite as tasty, eh? Think of this: What if half of the menus in Dallas had diver scallops that were actually handpicked by a flipper-footed stud muffin? How many flipper-footed-stud-muffin divers would it take to feed us scallops? Then think of the whole country? Yow. Zah. The Eastern coastline would be a mass of bobbing heads.
Is “diver scallop” creative menu writing or misrepresentation of a product? Why not be real and write Elephant Trunk Bay or George Bank-harvested scallops? Or is it more important to create the image that some guy is braving the North Atlantic for your dinner? Just a thought.