Ever since I spent the July 4th holiday with friends in the Boothbay region of Maine, I have spent hours (ridiculous, I know!) pondering the lure of the lobster; and if that wasn’t enough of an endeavor, the seemingly serious attraction of the lobster roll. First, let’s examine the lobster-that kind of funny looking, spiny crustacean which has become a much sought after delicacy.
Lobster holds a special place in my heart-not because I had it on a first date or ate it on a special anniversary, but rather because my first lobster eating frenzy occurred on the Joysa, a beautiful 42 foot Chris Craft. The captain and first mate of this boat were two wonderful people, who 33 years later became my in-laws! How that came to be is a terrific story, but way too complicated to include in this post.
Anyway, one fine night as we were cruising to our evening’s “port of call”, we encountered a lobster boat, proudly displaying the day’s haul on its deck. After purchasing several beauties, Rhoda (my future mother-in-law and queen of the galley) steamed them to perfection in just a few inches of sea water. It was during that summer evening of 1965 that I learned how to eat a lobster. The memory of sitting on deck in the Atlantic Ocean, artfully using the nut cracker to get at the succulent meat of the claws and tail and sucking the tentacles with an occasional errant spray of lobster juice, will forever be etched in my mind. Having been raised in a very proper Viennese home, where eating with one’s hands was strictly forbidden, the lobster experience was certainly enhanced by the opportunity to actually handle the sucker!
This past trip to Maine certainly brought back those wonderful memories, but I was also struck by the notion that “lobstering” in Maine is a unique industry and is actually a way of life steeped in tradition. It is often a family affair-techniques and territories are passed from one generation to the next. In fact, these specialized fishermen are often called “lobster gangs”. The lobstermen ensure that certain lobsters are not over-harvested and that breeding stock remains in the cold, fresh waters off of the Maine coast. All of these men and women are dedicated to their families and their livelihood but all the while cognizant that they have the responsibility of managing a community resource.
So what is the lure of the lobster for you? Do you only eat it on special occasions? Were you one of those lucky people who spent summers in Maine and had lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Are you at all like me in your appreciation of the history and tradition of the lobster industry? I know that Susan of Food Blogga has some special memories. You can read about it here. What is the lure of the lobster for you?
Off to Maine on Thursday to eat a lobster roll (and to buy a house!). Stay tuned for part II of the Lure of the Lobster.