Since I was born in Maine, bred in Massachusetts, and have a lobster prominently featured on my blog's masthead, one might naturally assume that I have a side of lobster with every meal as a matter of course. In fact, I hardly ever eat lobster. They're expensive and I don't love killing them. But I do find them very succulent indeed. We're lucky that my father-in-law has a few lobster traps so we get to enjoy the occasional free lobster dinner complete with ocean view. The richness of such a meal can tide you over for quite a while. In my own house, however, I cook lobster only rarely.
Cape Ann Fresh Catch, my fish CSA, offered lobsters for sale last week for the first time. I took this as a cosmic sign that lobster should cycle onto the menu once again. I've always wanted to try to recreate the wonderful lobster bisque from Cape Cod's Brewster Fish House. It's my favorite bisque ever and is notable because the lobster is not pureed into the soup, but rather cut into pieces so you get all the flavor of a bisque with the satisfaction of little lumps of lobster meat like a chowder. It's sweet and spicy and I love it.
That's what I was daydreaming about as a Gloucester fisherman dropped a pair of lobsters into my cooler. I happily drove them home, not a care in the world, until I'm standing eye to eye with one of them, a steaming pot of water nearby. I always forget about this part. The final act. The dread starts to bubble up from the recesses of my soul. Is the feeling worse now that I've had a chance to peek into the abyss myself? Perhaps. And yet I'm committed. I can't drive them back to the beach now. Not in rush hour traffic. Nobody will survive that!
There's no girlish squealing or Woody Allen-esque pacing and bemoaning that goes on during this process, mostly because I want the deed done as quickly as possible for everyone's sake. From the dark safety of the cooler to the dark danger of the pot, I aim for 10 seconds max. I snip off the claw bands with kitchen shears while my other hand holds the carapace firmly from behind. It's clear I have a feisty one on my hands. No sooner do the rubber bands shoot across the room unleashing his weapons than he somehow gets the blades of my scissors clamped in one of his claws, tail flipping up and down madly against his chest. I admire his will to live. I'm rooting for him, and yet too much struggling just delays the inevitable. I admit to administering some soothing words, which are all but useless to a lobster and entirely for my own benefit. No, the lobster is not going to calm down, Tammy. No, everything is not going to be okay. Not for him!
As I twist the scissors free, force him down into the pot, close the lid, and repeat the process for number 2, I wonder how I went from being a nurturing maternal figure to a cold-blooded murderer in the span of five minutes? That's when I realize that, no, I've been both all along. My love of meat is well documented. I just don't like to be the one who actually has to snuff out the life force. I prefer to let other people do the snuffing. Then maybe I can pretend the snuffing never took place at all. I'm a live and let live kind of gal. Unless I'm hungry, that much is clear. Or you come knocking on my door trying to sell me your service/product/religion/political view in the middle of dinnertime. Then all bets are off. My stockpot is really big. You've been warned!