Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Joys of Summer: Lobster

I just returned from a few days in Maine, where I feasted on fresh lobster served by the water's edge. I chose the type (hard or soft shelled), the size, and the cooking method (boiled or baked). Then I sat at an outdoor table and waited while my lobster was plucked from the water, cooked, and brought to me with assorted eating implements. For many folks, this is the quintessential New England summer dinner.

I'm one of those people who eats every possible morsel; a friend once said I reminded him of the scene in Splash, where Darryl Hannah bites into the middle of the lobster's back and then proceeds to devour it from there. I not only enjoy the tail and claw meat, but I rip off the little skinny legs and chew on them; I open the carapace and root around inside. To me, picking the lobster apart and digging out the sweet meat is part of the whole experience and pleasure. Luckily, my dining companion felt the same way, because eating a lobster this way takes time and creates a giant mess. And you smell like lobster for hours, despite the little wet wipes that most places give you.

If time is an issue, I'm likely to order lobster roll instead of boiled lobster. To a New Englander, lobster roll means just one thing: lots of lobster meat held together either with a bit of mayonnaise or just melted butter (and sometimes celery) piled atop a hot dog roll that is split on top and lightly toasted. You can buy lobster rolls in many places, including supermarkets and fast food restaurants, but I really wouldn't bother. Wait until you get to a place that makes them to order and makes them well.

I confess that I have never actually cooked a lobster; I can't stand hearing their claws scratching on the kettle. But this doesn't stop me from enjoying them. I always wonder about the first person who ate a lobster. When you look at one raw, it looks pretty unappetizing—a bit like a giant greenish-brownish bug. I salute the person who first decided to try eating one.

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