A brief history: Lobsters are bottom-feeders, so it was once considered poor man’s food. People thought that eating too much would cause a person to go “retarded.” In fact, prisoners in Maine used to eat pounds of lobster a week because they were so plentiful and so beneath the upper crust.
Well, we all know that has changed. Lobster is a pricey shellfish, which is why my parents used to lie to me about lobster when I was little. They said the pinchers would come alive and bite my tongue. It saved them two-fold; they didn’t need to spend money on a five year old and they didn’t need to waste time cracking the shells open for me.
Of course I learned that lobsters once dead were dead, and so began a love affair common with most Mainers. But it’s a messy affair.
Lobster isn’t meant to be eaten in hoighty-toighty restaurants—it’s meant for restaurant shacks and backyard carnage. You have to use those arm muscles, clench your teeth, swear if you get poked or cut by some shells, and laugh when a glob of lobster fat flies back at forehead. The occasional lobster roll is divine, and a good gourmet lobster Mac and Cheese is welcome, but the best way is the simple, messy way. #notfirstdatefood
A good lobster feast has three main components and sometimes a fourth.
Then you move onto clams (also known as steamers), which are an acquired texture taste. You have to peel the skin off the neck, and dunk the fat belly’s in their own broth before dipping them in butter. The initial broth bath gets rid of any excess grit, but occasionally you’ll get a clam with a sandy belly. The melted butter makes it all okay. Clams might not be as classy as mussels, which I also adore, but in my opinion they are richer and much better!
Then comes the lobster which you get in either hard or soft shell. This time around we got hard shells which takes a little more spunk and determination to open (and sometimes a hammer…)
At fancy restaurants, the lobster tail gets all the attention, but a lot f people would attest that the claw meat is loads better. Aside from the tail the claw is where the bulk of the meat is. Of course, you might as well get your money’s worth (like those poor Mainers back in the day) and assess the rest of the body.
You can bite and suck meat out of the little legs and the tail fins. It’s a time consuming process, but with hard shell lobsters you’ll get lucky. Once you get really good you can start to pick out the body meat. Most people think this is waste of time, but I say waste not want not! This body part is pliable, so crack is along the “spine.” This helps expose little pockets of meat. Again, you’ll have better luck sometimes, but it doesn’t hurt to look.
Now if you are really adventurous you eat the red roe, which is only found on female lobsters and it’s their eggs. I personally think it just tastes like sub-par lobster, but some people really like it.
Now, there a two types of lobster eaters: those who eat as they go and those who salvage, save, sample along the way, and shovel in the majority at the end. I’m in the later group. I’ll eat the leg and body meat, along with some claw pieces, but I like to gather everything in a big bowl, cover it in butter, and eat all at once.
If you have any sort of room in your stomach then some strawberry shortcake with warm biscuits, homemade whipped-cream, and fresh strawberries is a must, but don’t feel bad about rolling down the leggings to let the stomach hang proud and defeated.
update: If you are driving along route 4, passing through Turner, Maine (my home town!) please stop at Village Farm Lobster. This place is run by my friend’s father and we’ve been going there for years. Its definitely a must-stop, must-see, must-eat!