Lobster Lessons

I learned how to eat lobster when I was five, on the dock of our rented house on one of the  Belgrade Lakes in Maine. A weekend guest saw me struggling and took me aside.

“Don’t worry about anything but enjoying it,” he suggested. “It’s messy but that’s how you get to eat every single, delicious part.” With that, he helped me use a nutcracker to get the meat from the claws; showed me how to pull the long, skinny “legs”off and suck the meat out and get at and eat the green “tomalley” from the underside (males have this; females have coral or roe.) Hard core lobster-eaters don’t miss an inch. To this day, I prefer lobster eaten outdoors accompanied by melted butter, stacks of paper napkins and no one asking “how can you eat that disgusting green stuff?”

These are other lobster memories:

1. My uncle, an executive in the music business, had seven or eight licensed lobster “pots” in Long Island Sound in front of his house in Old Greenwich, CT.  When he thought there might be prizes in the pots, he’d row out and pull them up, tossing back any crustaceans that were undersized or not legal in other ways. I went along a few times and gained a new appreciation for commercial lobstermen–it’s a lot of work.

Lobster Pot

2. An inventive friend invited me and my young  daughters to join her and her three girls  for the day. She was planning lobster salad for a large crowd and had stored the crustaceans in her fridge.

“We’re having a lobster race” she told the girls. She handed each kid a wooden spoon, drew a starting line and put the lobsters on it. We rooted for our favorites, the girls pushing their choices forward towards the finish line with their spoons, everyone roaring with laughter.  It was great fun if you don’t count feeling a little like a Roman cheering for gladiators vs. lions.

3.  We were spending a few weeks at Corn Hill, Truro on Cape Cod.  I’d taken my six-year old daughter to buy lobsters which the fish seller put into a large paper bag and tossed into the car next to her. Driving home, my daughter screamed “Mommy,” it’s coming after me.” I pulled over. One lobster claw was out of the bag, waving in her direction. I stuffed it back in, calmed the child and drove home as speedily as possible. When it came time to start dinner, it was not easy tossing live food into boiling water. Not easy, mind you, but I did it (as husband muttered “murderer” under his breath but didn’t decline dinner.)

Corn Hill Beach, Truro, MA.

Maine Lobster Roll

  • 4  cups  cooked lobster meat, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2  cup  mayonnaise
  • 1/4  cup  chopped green onions (or omit if you don’t like onion in your roll)
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped celery
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  toasted hot dog buns

Combine first 7 ingredients. Spoon 3/4 cup salad into each bun.

There are a zillion places to eat lobster rolls all over Maine (and elsewhere in New England). Red’s Lobster Shack in Wiscasset is one of the best. When it opens for lunch, there’s a line and traffic stops. Get out those napkins!

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