Thursday, July 7, 2011


When my Aunt Cathi is around, one always eats well, and this weekend in Bristol was no exception. There were local yogurt with berries and her own homemade granola, homemade buttermilk waffles with fruit and whipped cream, steak with roasted name it.

And, on the Fourth of July, there were lobsters.

If you're a die-hard vegetarian, I highly recommend you skip the rest of this post.

I killed those lobsters, you guys. I killed them dead. Typically, I steam lobsters, along with clams, mussels and potatoes, in a couple bottles of wine. If you're going to do that, the best and most humane thing to do is to kill the lobsters with a knife between the eyes before you put them in the pot.

But if you're going to boil them, as we did ours this weekend, then you can just drop them in the boiling water. I've also heard tell that the best way to do boiled lobster is to start them in a cold pot and heat the water up around them, but I haven't seen any evidence that it's more humane.

It's interesting, you know, that the killing and eating of lobsters is so fraught for so many. After all, animals with far more complex brains die for our (non-vegetarian) meals every day. And I kill mussels and clams myself on a regular basis. Why should a lobster be different?

Well, it moves, doesn't it? It's a decent size, and it has distinguishable limbs, and it's altogether alive. But while I don't relish the idea of slaughtering my own meat on a regular basis, I can't help but think that being willing to take care of business where a lobster is concerned is an omnivore's duty. After all, if I plan to eat it, I should probably be forced to look it in the eye at some point.

If you feel like pondering the issue further, I highly recommend Consider the Lobster by the late David Foster Wallace. It's pretty excellent. (And a pretty good argument for why Gourmet was unique among food magazines.)

If you don't, here's a recipe for lobster.

Aunt Cathi's Lobster Boil

Giant stock pot half-filled with water
5 lobsters, about 1 1/2 pounds each
1 lemon
1/2 stick salted butter*

Set the stock pot on the stove, cover, and bring to a boil. Gently place the lobster in the boiling water and replace the cover. Cook for 11 minutes, or until the lobsters are bright red and the antennae pull off easily.

Meanwhile, slice the lemon into five wedges and melt the butter over low heat.

When the lobsters are done cooking, remove from the water with tongs, allowing each to drain a bit over the pot before placing on a plate or platter.

Serve the lobsters one to a person, with ample napkins, lobster crackers and tiny forks to go alongside. Portion the butter out into five ramekins and place a lemon wedge alongside. Go to town.

Serves five.

*This is pretty much the only time I'll tell you to use salted butter.


Miles said...

I am officially jealous.
I butchered my own lobsters for the first time on Christmas Eve. Jimmy told me to put the knife through the head instead and then to put them in cold water for a few minutes before boiling. Somehow I got this mixed up and put the lobsters (lethargic from being in the fridge) into the cold water first where they instantly woke up and splashed water all over my house. I don't know what I was thinking. But it was hysterically funny in hindsight.

Meg Blocker said...

That IS hilarious. I wonder why the cold water after the knife? Is it to help the flesh relax after the tense moment?

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