Lobstruck

I don't want to eat this guy.

 

Lobsters! Am I right? Where was I?

Right. Alright. So. Lobster pizza. I mentioned my recent discovery of that. Coincidentally, that discovery came shortly after my discovery of lobster ice cream. Despite their temporal proximity, these revelations came from completely different sources. I think that I heard about the latter on a podcast. Later in that week, I saw a sign outside of the restaurant at the end of my old street that advertised the former. I’d probably be interested in trying all sorts of things like this if I had any taste for the involved foods.

I can’t really speak to the specifics of my disinterest in ice cream and pizza. The latter was definitely a significant part of my childhood, and it might actually bear the distinction of being one of the only significant parts of my childhood that fell away. My tastes haven’t actually changed that much. They’ve expanded in various ways, but that expansion rarely comes at the cost of my early loves.

Ice cream’s a bit of a different matter. I never had that grand, bombastic passion for it that’s supposed to be one of the classical features of early youth. In contrast to the common chant, it was never something for which I screamed. I might have screamed around it. I might have screamed in its presence on occasion. I was always a screamer. I scream for a lot of reasons. I’m just saying that ice cream was never a motivating factor in my screaming.

My preference for the more esoteric varieties of the dessert might have reinforced my natural ambivalence for the substance. Tiger Tail was a great flavour when you could find it, and I’ve always had a spot in my heart for Monkey God Chocolate Chip despite the fact that I’m constantly being told that it doesn’t actually exist. Whatever. Such nonsense angers the Monkey God.

My reasons for avoiding lobster are much firmer. In comparison to many of my other opinions, they may seem downright logical. Some have even expressed agreement with them. Willingly.

I always had a taste for seafood. Fish was an early favourite, and I fell in love with sushi upon my first encounter with it at the age of six. That little eel bundle tasted like candy of the most intriguing kind. Damn. I think that I’m working up some desire for sushi now. I’m not saying that the world will end if I don’t get sushi soon, but . . . Well, I don’t know. Things might get somewhat apocalyptic if I don’t get sushi soon.

But Ragnarok can’t stop my talk!

My fondness for the flesh of aquatic organisms would probably have made lobster a likely candidate for a new dining experience even if I hadn’t been tied from birth to a lineage with strong roots in Prince Edward Island, but my maternal family’s maritime proclivities led to the ascendance of the supposedly delectable crustacean into a position of mystique, reverence, and wonder. It became an iconic representation of culinary supremacy. This apotheosis was aided by the rather potent presence of the Red Lobster restaurant chain in my life, which came about in the first place because Red Lobster is a perfectly obvious destination for parents who wish to dine out with children in possession of a preternatural hunger for fish. Despite the fact that I never actually ordered the lobster there, the establishment’s assiduous symbology had an indelible effect on my young, carnivorous psyche.

I might even still have some of the lobster memorabilia I collected on that road trip through the east coast my family took on the way to one of our annual Prince Edward Island visits. That whole area is obsessed with lobster. It’s like Maine’s Statue of Liberty. Incidentally, that’s where the lobster ice cream is, but I didn’t notice it while I was there. It’s like that to some extent in Prince Edward Island too, but the effect is diluted somewhat by the province’s pronounced pride of its red sand. There’s also that whole Lucy Montgomery thing, but that’s another matter. That whole region does all kinds of things with lobster. Lobster products at McDonald’s? Yeah. That’s a thing. I think that I heard that that’s spreading throughout the continent now, but it’s always been there. The collective menus of that entire region are dominated by the results of arcane experimentation with this crunchy, chitinous creature.

Anyway, I finally tried the stuff. It might even have been on that trip. It was definitely in Prince Edward Island. The whole thing was an ordeal from the beginning. The dish is preceded by the arrival of a special bib that often bears some sort of design to remind you of the idealised form of the animal that will soon find its way into your mouth. Some places even give a set of cutlery that’s unique to those who have chosen to order the lobster. These sorts of rituals only serve to strengthen the lobster’s deification. Lobster is also the only meal I’ve ever seen that comes with its own cup of liquid butter. You can do whatever you want with that butter. You can infer that it should go on the lobster, but that’s up to you. If you’ve ever wanted to drink hot butter, order lobster. This is your chance.

But lobster just didn’t come close to living up to the myth for me. First, it requires a ridiculous amount of work. I’m not talking about preparation. I don’t cook. That’s never a concern. I’m saying that one really needs to work to get to the meat. You have to interrupt yourself repeatedly to work through a new section of the carapace. I don’t even like cutting my steak. This is basically why I don’t eat oranges often. I’m an avowed fanatic of orange juice, and the fruit from which it comes is rather delectable, but it’s rarely worth the effort. You have to peel the thing, and the skin comes off in tiny chunks. The acidic ichor oozes out, and it attempts to join the albedo under your fingernails. I’ll admit that blood oranges are worth it, but they’re actually easier to peel than most members of the citrus family. Grapefruits are similarly problematic. Even after you’ve cut the thing open, it still tries to force you to cut out its chunks individually. Balls to that noise. On the rare occasions when I have the desire and patience for a grapefruit, I’m going to scoop out what I can and drink its nectar.

Back to lobster. After all of that work, there isn’t exactly a large amount of meat. The thing’s magnificently gigantic on the plate, but its consumable content accounts for a mere fraction of its prodigious size. Ultimately, the meat that is there just doesn’t taste that good to me.

And let’s be honest.  What is a lobster? In many ways, it’s incredibly close to a giant, aquatic version of a spider. You’re basically eating a more resilient and versatile kind of spider.


Spot the differences. There aren't enough.

 


 

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.