|Main ingredients||Seafood and red meat|
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Surf and turf or surf 'n' turf is a main course combining seafood and red meat. A typical seafood component would be lobster (either lobster tail or a whole lobster), prawns, shrimp, squid or scallops, any of which could be steamed, grilled or breaded and fried. The meat is typically beef steak, although others may be used. One standard combination is lobster tail and filet mignon.
Surf and turf is typically served in steakhouses in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.
Surf and turf is sometimes referred to as Reef and beef or Reef 'n' Beef in Australia.
It is unclear where the term originated. The earliest known citation is from 1961, in the Los Angeles Times.
In late 19th-century America, combining large portions of lobster and steak was popular at "show restaurants known as lobster palaces", favored by nouveau riche "arrivistes". This became unfashionable by the 1920s, and only regained popularity in the early 1960s.
Surf 'n' turf was featured in 1962 at the Eye of the Needle, a revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.
Surf and turf is often considered to symbolize the middle-class "Continental cuisine" of the 1960s and 1970s, with (frozen) lobster and steak as replacement for the middle class.
A variation is the surf and turf burger, which is prepared with ground beef and various types of seafood, such as lobster, shrimp or crab.
Surf and turf is often considered as an example of conspicuous consumption and kitsch, as it combines two expensive foods which are not normally considered to be complementary:
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.
...the point of surf 'n' turf is to maximize hedonistic extravagance...— Jane & Michael Stern, 1990
This meal is stunt food. It exists because it's a way for restaurants to package the two most expensive items on the menu—tenderloin and lobster—into one ostentatious price tag. Otherwise, these two items don't even go together. It's the most conspicuous of conspicuous consumption, and maybe even a little cliché.— Jared Stone, 2015
As one moves downward in the American socioeconomic class structure, one sees lobster retain its image as a status foodstuff. To be affordable to the middle class, however, the actual lobster eaten usually takes the form of frozen Australian lobster tail, many times served along with steak as part of a standard middle-class status meal known as "surf and turf". Thus the image of rarity and status is retained, but a cheaper product that has no relationship to Maine ... is substituted for the authentic foodstuff.