Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies
Selling the Storied Stone Crab: Eating, Ecology, and the Creation of South Florida Culture
nicolaas mink


"Selling the Storied Stone Crab" examines the intersection between eating and the environment in South Florida using the stone crab, a highly-prized local delicacy, and the world-renowned restaurant that purportedly first began serving them, Joe's Stone Crab, as lenses through which to analyze regional identity, conceptions of place, and the social, cultural, generational and class distinctions that have arisen through consuming the crustacean over the twentieth-century. The work is both an institutional and corporate history of Joe's Stone Crab and an environmental and cultural history of the stone crab. In an area defined by striking transience, tourism, and massive growth, the essay argues that people envisioned themselves becoming indigenous to South Florida's unique natural and cultural landscape through the ingestion of a food that they believed could only be attained in the region. But the common perception that most gourmands hold--that the stone crab can only be procured in South Florida--is in itself a myth. The stone crab can be purchased worldwide, it is not strictly indigenous to South Florida, nor did Joe's Stone Crab first serve the decapod. Nevertheless, "Selling the Storied Stone Crab" concludes that these points are inconsequential for most visitors and residents who continue to relish both the crustacean's sweet meat and the myths that surround its eating.

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