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Surf and Turf USA

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No so original origins

The origin of Surf and Turf dates back to the nineteen sixties. In the United states. Surf stood for sea food. More exactly shellfish. While turf stands for red meat, good old beef. And although very unlikely, allegedly temporary invented on the East and West coast. 

The idea though is much older. The Talmud forbids Jews to mix fish and meat. Undeniably underlining they thought about doing so. The reason of the prohibition? Bad for your health and it gives you bad breath. So it goes.

the talmud forbids mixing fish and meat, no surf and turf

Surf and turf on the menu

surf and turf

Lobster tail and filet. That was the original surf and turf in the United states. The first one with with garlic flavoured butter, the Turf rare baked. Classic, very classic. Later variations popped up. Specially regarding the Surf. Scallops, shrimp and even crab meat replaced lobster. Or kept it company.

The success was immediate. So soon the dish could be found in Canada, Australia and in the UK. Whereas European countries seemed reluctant to put it on the menu.

Oh my Gaudy

Surf and Turf is truly limited and a tad narrow-minded. The sea features but shellfish while the turf has nothing but bovine tramping it. That makes the dish unsurprising and therefore immensely popular.

This popularity pushed the dish into the category of gaudy dishes. Expensive yes. But it does lack any culinary framework. And with different cooking times, they cannot be prepared together.

Surf ‘n’ turf is an example of the voracious rapture that defines much classic kitsch: adding two swanky things together in hopes of doubling their value, and in fact winding up with a flatulent faux pas.

surf and turf

One plus one does equal two

one plus one equals two

As mentioned above, surf and turf consists in two ingredients brought together. Without knowing each other. Without having been properly introduced. Two expensive ingredients. Often the most expensive ones on the menu. And often that seems to be the only reason that links both, apart from abundant garlic butter

And  the critic keeps coming. Surf and turf is an example of what Veblen defines conspicious consumption. In simple terms: showing off.

A future for Surf and turf

The future for surf and turf is not easy.  New cooking techniques don’t really change the dish. The adding of foam, sauce, creams or jelly? Still no change.

An interesting attempt comes from the hamburger world. It is by far the most innovating approach. But will people want to pay for this burger? Other people cannot see what is inside. Which is after all the purpose of the dish.

With the right marketing this may become the saviour of an odd but all together  interesting dish.


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