|Get Ready for the Lobster Boil|
I have a pet dog named Teesha and a cat named Pumpkin; I treat them like they are my children and love them more than most of my relatives. Yet for over 20 years, I have been cooking and eating almost every fish and land animal that's edible.
I have killed live fish, frogs, snakes, rabbits and chickens and turned them into great dishes; I have helped my uncle Joe slaughter pigs for his annual salume fest. I have seen it all, and eaten it all. Chefs love plants and animals because they provide us with our raw materials: Like painters, these ingredients are the colors we work with.
I have dozens of pet geese, ducks and chickens -- all have names -- and I would never do more to them than eat their eggs. Somehow I deal with the dichotomy of the situation and move on. But when it comes to lobsters, there is no conflict whatsoever. Although a few times each summer, I inevitably get the question: Do lobsters scream when you boil them? The other night was no exception. With two dozen writhing lobsters on my kitchen counter and six pots of boiling water, I had to explain once again to a squeamish guest that no, lobsters don't scream when you cook them. The sound comes from air escaping from their carapace (shells) as they cook. Luckily, I was grilling mushrooms at the time, and they happened to be "screaming" as well, so my explanation had instant credibility. There is almost no pleasure -- culinarily speaking, of course -- greater than the taste of a sweet and salty steamed lobster claw dipped in melted butter. Really, there isn't. Shrimp, crab, mussels and clams are all tasty, but they don't hold a candle to a lobster. Ironically, at one point in our country's history lobster were considered filthy, bottom-dwelling sea creatures not fit for human consumption. Things have certainly changed. Now lobster is considered the epitome of gourmet cuisine. In the summer, once every week or so, my friends and I indulge ourselves with as much lobster and melted butter as we can eat. It's even easy to prepare: You boil water; cook the lobster for several minutes; crack and serve. But of course, I have some further tips.