Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maine Lobstah

Who goes to Maine on her spring break? This girl, that’s who. While other people might choose to sun themselves on warm beaches and drink tropical cocktails, I headed north to Portland, Maine, to spend a week off from school with my Maine family.

The first night that I arrived in Maine lobster was on the menu. I enjoy lobster, but I haven’t really engaged in the whole steaming a live lobster. Being in Maine, however, basically requires that lobster be eaten, so it was a necessary endeavor.

We started out with live lobsters. They are such strange creatures—like giant sea bugs that just happen to taste amazing if you can only crack through their tough exterior.

Maddy was very intrigued by the lobsters…

Cooking lobsters, of course, means killing lobsters. It’s rare in this day and age to have a close experience with the food that you are about to eat. So much of our food is preprocessed and packaged—it passes through multiple hands before it actually gets to your table, which seriously deteriorates any direct connection with your food. But with lobsters it’s different. Even though it’s unlikely that you would be out on the boat actually catching the lobster, you do get to interact with it before it becomes food. And by interact I mean take away its life.

It’s not so bad really—just grab the crustaceans and throw them in a pot with a little water to steam them. I didn’t feel particularly guilty, but it was weird to lift up the lid and see the lobsters, which so recently moved around their little claws and bodies suddenly be so still. And so red. It reminds me of when Bebe in Kill Bill 2 explains how she killed her fish, Emilio—one moment he was flapping on the carpet and then after she stepped on him he wasn’t. “Is that not the perfect visual image of death?” asks Bill, “a fish flapping on the carpet, and a fish not flapping on the carpet.” The same might be said for the lobster—a lobster waving its claws, and a lobster not waving its claws.

After we were done steaming our lobsters it was time to eat, but unfortunately there were no lobster crackers in sight. So what do the men do? Bust out tools of course—all of a sudden there emerged hammers, pliers, screwdrivers…you name it. So while they bashed away at their lobsters with the tools my sister artfully and skillfully helped me cut open the lobster tail with a pair of kitchen scissors. Aren’t the social constructions of gender simply fascinating?

The lobster meat itself was delicious. I started off with the tail but soon discovered that my favorite parts of the lobster were the joints and claws. There is something about the claw and joint meat that just seems to capture the essence of the ocean a little bit better. I love the taste of the sea concentrated into food—it’s like a taste of the infinite possibilities of that mysterious, watery realm.

If you find yourself in Maine, eating lobster is a must. You definitely don’t want to miss out on devouring one of this strange yet delicious sea creatures...just don't forget the lobster crackers.

1 comment:

  1. I just got around to reading this post, so great!! Seafood is one of the few things that the everyday person still handles live before consuming, it's kinda fun! This reminded me of my shellfish class. I had a HUGE bowl of Mussels in front of me that, if they were open, I had to tap to see if they were alive. They closed immediately if so, and were tossed if there was no response. My friend and I sat there tapping, saying "ALLOO IS HOME? NO?". It was a great class except I was told I'd be asked to leave for a few minutes if I kept creating dialogue for the lobster we were being lectured on and about to cook!!! It was silly, but it really was covering it's eyes and getting nervous. We had to calm it down by "petting" it or "stroking" it's back shell. It was a totally different experience, and surprisingly fun for a recovering vegetarian!