Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Postcard: Maine

Thirty hours of travel. Forty-eight hours of trip. Six flights. Zero naps. Normally, this would not be the kind of adventure that would cause me to break out in hives. I mean, I have sat in second class on a train traversing India for thirty-six hours, spent a very uncomfortable night on the well-worn floor of the Calcutta airport, made friends with the over-night security team in an Indonesian airport in order to get in on their roasted sweet potato feast, hitchhiked east to west across the great continent of Africa…. Ummm, did I mention we were trekking from Mexico to Maine with a sixteen month gremlin? Thus the hives. The days of stillness and snuggling are over; these days, Oscar has the composure of a tornado. Mr.-I-don’t-sit-still-for-anyone has to experience his world. His must be a very existential mind. Is that man in front of me really there? I can’t know for sure until I pull his hair and get him to shoot bullets out of his eyes at my mom when I kick the back of his seat. What would make us crazy enough to consider such an adventure? Family, of course. What would make it all worth it? Copious amounts of Maine lobster dipped in heart-attack inducing amounts of melted butter.

Carter and I went to college in Maine, and it wouldn’t be the first time we tried to kill ourselves by gorging on the clawed crustacean. My senior year, I vowed to eat lobster until I could eat no more. It sounded decadent and indulgent and just the challenge for me. Hard to believe, but the day did come, and for many years I have preferred crab over lobster.

Two days. Six meals. Of the six meals, four were already spoken for, leaving only two for THE world famous Maine "lobstah". The moment we opened the squeaky screen porch door, giving way to the bubbling sound of the live lobster tank, I knew we were in a good place. Floors, walls and ceilings were all constructed of a blond highly-varnished wood and were adorned with lobster nets, ships in bottles, lighthouse debris and signs about sailors and loose women-- clearly Spinney’s Restaurant and Lodging was our spot. While taking in the unique and rugged Maine coast, we scarfed down our prize for surviving the long haul with the in-flight lap devil and a huge satisfying sigh of contentment came over us.
One lobster down. Many more to go. How to top the perfect lunch, setting and all? Do it yourself and do it better. We were staying in West Point, which is one of the oldest fishing villages in Casco Bay on the Phippsburg Peninsula. Our house was about fifty yards from an ocean inlet where lobster boats docked. Pete, my-brother-in-law, upon seeing a lobstah man mooring his rig into our front yard, cruised down to survey the catch. For $3.99/lb. we could have all of the freshly caught "lobbies" that we could eat. Uhhh, I’ll take two biggies. The shells were soft, which means the lobsters were molting and meat is at its sweetest and no shell crackers are needed. We filled a lobster pot with ocean water, brought it to a boil and plunged our lunch into its tasty demise. It really is a beautiful thing being on this end of the food chain.

These were, I kid you not, the best lobsters I have ever had. I attribute it to three things: 1) Fresh off the boat— you can’t beat it. 2) Soft-shells-- which you will rarely find if the lobsters have to be transported. Lobsters in this state are much more vulnerable and will most likely die during the journey. 3) Pete, the cook-- boil the lobbies in ocean water for the perfect cooking time of ten minutes for the first pound, three minutes for each additional pound. (Error on the side of undercooking, because they will continue to cook after you remove them from the pot. The meat should be tender, not rubbery- which can happen very quickly and result in a pointless death). In case you are wanting to go the whole nine yards, wash it down with a perfect pairing of 2007 Rudd Sauvignon Blanc- perhaps that is what all of those pounds of lobsters in college were missing…Gallo table wine out of a jug just doesn’t do the sweetness of buttery lobster meat justice.

Three lobstahs! One pound of buttah! One family wedding. What could be bettah?!


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