Lobster is my favorite food in the whole world. Eating one, however, is more than a sumptuous meal; it is an art form requiring great finesse. All of my adult life I have tried to eat lobster like a lady and been thwarted with every turn of the seafood fork. It seems impossible, almost like discovering the treasure of the Sierra Madre or maybe just like Perry Comos old song, to eat this wonderful delicacy without getting part of it all over myself and other parts over innocent bystanders. There should be a sign next to my table that reads to all those who might sit there: Eat Here At Your Own Risk.
Whenever I order a lobster I always ask the wait-person for several bibs; one for me, one for my boyfriend sitting across from me, one for every one else seated at our table and one for all of those unfortunate enough to be seated at the table to my immediate left. (I am right handed and food flies proportional to seating. Trust me. I know.) After all the bibs are in place, I spend a nostalgic moment or two naming and apologizing to the poor red creature who has died such a piteous death so that I might eat. The guilt soon passes and then I proceed.
I have my very own system. I have never noticed what other people do as I am usually too busy eating to care. First, I eat the guts; you know, that green stuff in the middle of all that sweet meat. Most people dont like it and thats where I get lucky. Usually, others pass me their "green stuff". (Sometimes I trade it for a small claw or two, but not if I can help it; the whole lobster is mine, sayeth the Lord.) After I devour the guts, I proceed to the white meat thats out of the shell and easy to get to. Things are usually just fine until I arrive at the second lobster plateau where the meat is going to give me a run for my money. Heres where those small forks that are an attempt to lend some decorum to a barbarian populace cause some trouble. They are far too delicate for the job. Some meat is very stubborn and it is difficult to pry it out of the shell with such a little implement.
The crackers provided at the table to split the shells bring me to my next course of action. I know my Emily Post, but I still say that they are not sufficient. Miniature drills and shovels are much more effective and should be at the table setting of every lobster-loving patron. The final stage involves those small claws. Heres where things can really get messy. The meat here is fabulous, but pocketed in almost microscopic openings. I have found only one effective way to extract it and thats to suck it out. I mean gently, I mean quietly, but suck it out nonetheless. Have fun with it. Who cares who sees you? Youre not running for office, or are you? (If you are, then eat lobster at home. I will cover that a little later.)
Allow me to linger on the subject of "crackers" for just a moment more. On a summer night on the Jersey shore a number of years ago a few friends and I went to dinner at a local restaurant. The disposable plastic crackers provided at each table setting told me there would be trouble right away for all of us die-hard lobster fans. My very first thought was that they didnt look strong enough to crack lobster shell, but I said nothing. When our lobsters arrived we were all very hungry. I was the first of five people to dig in.
I gobbled the guts as I usually do and had already eaten the sweet meat in the middle. Undaunted, I used the cracker to break off the shell from one of the large claws. A moment later the only thing in my hand was the cracker. The runaway claw had flown through the air and landed smack in the middle of the next table. (Fortunately, no one was seated there). We all laughed and I was very embarrassed, but things did not end there. One of my friends was cracking a claw and it slipped out of her hands, whizzed past my head and landed on the floor on the other side of the table. She couldnt even FIND her cracker afterwards.(It could have been worse. She could have lost the claw!)