Before we get to the lobster goodies, have you clicked the “like” button for my page over here on the right? On September 30, I’m drawing 10 liker names out of a hat. The winners get a free e-copy of my book, Temp: An Accidental Fairytale. So like away, fellow lobster lovers!
Now, here’s the skinny on my fatty lobster experience. Yesterday morning, the hubs and I plotted out our grocery trip. I always feel slightly Napoleonic when deciding what to eat during the week and charting out how the ingredients should be listed by aisle for dry goods with vegetables, deli, meat, dairy, and frozen foods going last (in that order). I know that by telling you this useless tidbit about how I shop equates to me stalling the story, which is exactly what I was doing yesterday as I danced around writing the word “lobster” on the list. I was starting to get squeamish.
Driving to the market, I wondered why killing a lobster was such a big deal. I mean, I buy meat all the time, I just don’t do the killing. It’s strange that if I had been born not too long ago, having my hands in pig guts or twisting a chicken’s neck might be no biggie. Chucking a crustacean into a pot isn’t even a very direct way to murder somebody, but here I was fretting over it.
At the store, we looked over the lobster lineup and singled out our two boys. We said we’d pick them up when we were done shopping so the butcher would have time to wrangle them out of the tank. I took my time around the store, not ready to feel the wriggle of chitin in my hands. That’s why my jaw just about dropped when we came for our little men and were handed two tidy paper boxes. No freaky, serial-killer plastic bags here, no sir. Just cute lunch boxes with handles and well behaved boys inside. They looked like they were ready to go to school or something, not like paper houses for barbarians of the wild and deep.
Then it finally dawned on me why I was so afraid to pick the little goons up at the store, and why lobsters scare the bejeezus out of me even though they’re my favorite meat. When I was about four, my mom took me to a farmer’s market and bought a few lobsters. I was perched in that little metallic child canister in the front of the cart, legs dangling out the holes, minding my own business, when one of the little demons came after me. The vicious, slimy, twenty pound phoenix wrenched itself out of its plastic bag and leapt right into my hair, clipping and clicking with its antennas brushing my ears. Naturally, I screamed bloody murder.
… Okay, so that’s not what actually happened. Really, one of the critters wiggled a tad inside its bag, and I guess I didn’t realize it was still supposed to be alive. The screaming part, on the other hand, is absolutely accurate. But I guess something about that mystic blue bugger stuck with me, and that’s part of why offing one was such a biggie.
As five o’clock rolled around, I prepared our monster pot, tossing in a handful of sea salt just like Julia Child instructed. The water boiled. The kitchen grew quiet. I removed the creatures of the deep from the fridge.
Somehow, even though I knew I was scared of lobsters, I didn’t think chucking them into a vat of water would be that hard. After all, aside from the gastronomic benefits, directing the lobsters out of this life was partially an exercise in bravery. If I could touch a sea spider and fling it into the never-never, then I could do just about anything. Right?
Except that, when it came time to get cooking, I couldn’t seem to get up the nerve to pick them up. I may love Julia, but I’m not her. The woman had nerves of titanium. It took a few minutes and there was some screaming and shrieking and talking to myself that really unnerved the dog, but in the end they went in, the lid went on, and there was no wriggling or hissing from inside.
I thought the hardest part would be slicing them between the eyes so they could drain, but it actually wasn’t so bad… Okay, it was. I realized it was all about the eyes, sad, staring, empty eyes, so I de-eyed them. Unfortunately, their peepers plopped down into the sink and stared at me like something from a comical monster flick. They’re in the disposal now. In other words, I win.
The good news is that it was the best dadgum lobster we’d ever had. I disassembled the shell and parts just like Julia taught me, even feeling like a tried and true New Englander when I ripped off the scale tails and poked the meat out with my finger. I was no debutante, but I suspect poking lobster meat out of the animal’s butt isn’t something they teach in cotillion. Then again, maybe it is. Rich people can be funny like that.
So, to summarize, buying a lobster isn’t hard, killing it is, and the eyes are the worst part. But the end result? Dee-lish. And now I have loads of stock to use for a bisque later. Yummers.