30 July 2009


We eat lobster with unpracticed abandon. During this annual ritual we shed our summer seersucker manners and revel instead in the savagery of mere eating. It’s so easy to do in Maine. A walk to the lobster pound to pick out our dinner; with a long-handled net one of the workers scoops our selection into a brown paper bag and drops that into a plastic one. We hand over our cowry and the trade is completed; out we go and head back home. Into a large pot filled with a few inches of boiling water go the squirming crustaceans, brown, blue, sea-floor camouflage. The lid is closed and in just minutes they boil and steam to perfection. In the time it takes to set the table we stop thinking about them as animals and begin smelling dinner. We lift the lid and retrieve these fiery beacons of summer.
We tear them apart, pulling off legs and pecking at their bellies. Once we’ve sucked the small bits of flesh from the now-hollow legs we move on, hungry for more. The claws are the first fruit that begin to satisfy our craving. These once-wielded weapons are the easiest to break open, and we celebrate these plump nuggets with a mouthful of ale or a gulp of wine. After all the prying and tearing and pulling and biting we eat the tail, breaking it from the top and turning it over to open it. We feast on the tail, savoring and ripping the meat with canines, incisors, and molars. This is how our species evolved, nimble-fingered mammals capable of tearing and chewing other living things. This insect of the sea brings us back to Maine year after year, and whether prices are high or low we feast on them night after night. We eat few other things so completely and in such an unadulterated manner. No separation between us and our prey as we reach for another one-pound soft shell. It’s hard to imagine us ripping apart a chicken or pig and breaking its bones as we tear into its flesh. But on these July nights the smell of pines mingles with the smell of dinner, and we sit with a mound of shells between us – heads, tails, legs – all torn asunder and discarded, and we are satisfied, content animals.


  1. Yum! You eat lobster like I do! I like it plain, too (just butter), but if you want a little variety, here are some lobster recipes.

  2. Thanks for the recipe link - next year I'll make bisque as well.

  3. This definately needs a picture of your family tearing those lobsters asunder. Yummmm...