04 September, 2011
Tasty, Tasty Murder
You may have seen this t-shirt or at least heard the comment before. It's a concept Scott and I laugh about a lot. Watch enough food/travel shows, and you're going to see all sorts of animals - from cows to fish - killed and cooked. Everyone knows that meat used to breathe and think.
I, of course, am more of a supermarket murderer. By the time I get my food, it's long-dead. I never saw its face, never watched it breathe, and certainly didn't help kill it. Heck, I've never even caught a fish that didn't get released back into the water!
Scott and I were told a perishable food-related thank you gift was to be delivered to us yesterday morning. We were expecting an edible arrangement. After all, the thank-you was for something we genuinely didn't expect to be thanked for! And so, imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang and I opened the door to find a very large box under the welcome mat. (about that: the UPS driver often "hides" our packages under our doormat. it's always obvious - even a small package makes the mat look like a cat is hiding under it - but yesterday's was just-plain comical. the box was at least a foot tall, and about the same other dimensions as the mat that was covering it!) The box had a big logo on the side - LobsterGram!
So I hauled the box into the house and put it up on the dining room table, grabbed Scott's pocket knife and pulled out the shipping manifest. Now having some clue about the contents, I though I should probably open the box. So I did. And inside was a giant styrofoam cooler. I opened that lid, pulled off a layer of bubble wrap, and saw a wax paper sort of thing. I picked up the corner, enough to see a rubber-banded claw that was definitely not bright red. I put everything back in, closed the cooler, backed away slowly, and took the shipping paper upstairs to Scott (who had been in the shower).
He came back downstairs with me and agreed that yes, there were two lobsters in the box. That were moving. In our house!
In retrospect, I think we both probably made the face new parents make the first time their precious miracle has an explosive poo. You know you should DO something, and quickly, but all you can really do is stand there frozen and staring. It was really a "umm...what do we do now" moment. Scott then covered the lobsters back up and closed the cooler. I should mention that neither of us really has a humanitarian hang-up about lobster. Like all sorts of other creatures of the sea, they also fall into the "tasty, tasty murder" category. But I think maybe because I had fish tanks growing up, the sight of a lobster in a tank at the grocery store is really no different to me than the sight of fish waiting to come home with you and live in your house.
We of course knew right away that we weren't going to look a gift-lobster in the mouth, and started reading their enclosed cooking manual (how's that for a "To Serve Man" type fate?). The paper that was on top of the cooler suggested that we pose our lobsters for fun pictures before cooking them. I thought that was pretty mean-spirited, though did have a momentary flash of "Mary and Richard playing with lobsters?" that quickly passed. Scott also read in the manual that sometimes the lobster tails will splash boiling water when you put them in the pot. Yikes! So we followed the sage advice of Alton Brown and put them in the freezer to stupefy them while the water came to a boil.
When the time came, I held the pot lid, Scott deposited them into the water, and I put the lid back on. And the worst was officially behind us. I guess the freezer trick really worked, because this scene from "Julie & Julia" certainly didn't happen to us...
(coincidentally enough, I just saw this movie for the first time this morning. oh how I laughed!)
Nine minutes after the water came back to a boil, they were cooked. Scott did the ripping and rinsing, and I got the clarified butter, a few glasses of chardonnay, and all the appropriate tools together at the table. While Scott was still working on cleaning his lobster, I grabbed one of the legs off my plate and sucked the meat out of it. And in that moment, I had a food-piphany. Lobster is so good that it gives you lobster-prep amnesia!
The parts of the meal where we were able to extract actual big chunks of lobster meat from the shells were even more amazing. I might have shattered-claw-shell shrapnel buried in my face (came close to getting my safety classes out of my work bag...for real), but that's half the fun of eating crustaceans. I barely touched the butter. The meat was just so perfect without it!
I get it now - why foodies are so willing to kill and eat lobsters in their own homes. I don't think I'm at the point emotionally where I could go to the store and pick one out of a tank... but I could probably give someone else the money to go buy one for me!
We had sort of a weird schedule yesterday, and actually ate the lobsters for lunch. Tonight, we're having the rest of the stuff that came in the cooler with the lobsters. It's the gift that keeps on giving! And now I can add lobster to the list of things I can cook...with a little (ok, a lot of) help from my hubby!