1.) Help out the workers.
Right now there’s a lobster glut. Too much supply is making for the lowest prices seen in decades. In Maine you can get lobster for $4 a pound, which is less than chicken breasts at Trader Joe’s. Prices are so low that the working lobster men and women–still a small-scale, family fishery–are having a hard time just covering the cost of gas, labor, and supplies. So it is actually our DUTY to eat as much lobster as we can. If possible, choose “soft-shells,” which are even sweeter, and so easy to eat you don’t even need a cracker.
2.) Think small.
Walking up to a tank full of lobsters and asking for the biggest one gives you away as as a newbie. Two pounds sounds delicious, luxurious, deluxe, but actually it’s just not tasty. The bigger the lobster, the less flavor. Smaller is sweeter: think pound-and-a-quarter (“chix”) or pound-and-a-half. If you are worried you won’t have enough food, get two. (See Step 1).
3.) Control the means of production.
I know, cooking is not the point here, but believe me when it comes to lobsters, cooking them yourself is an act of revolution. Think Julia Child with a cleaver, not Annie Hall chasing lobsters around the house. Do not believe the hype about lobsters “screaming”; they have no vocal cords. They do have air escaping from their shells. And hey, if you’re going to eat animals, you ought to be able to do the deed yourself. Get a huge pot with a lid, fill it about a quarter of the way with water, and seaweed if you have it. Wait for it to boil like crazy, then place your lobsters in there and put the lid on. Boil for at least 10-15 minutes, until your lobsters are entirely red.
4.) Don’t be afraid to make a mess.
Wherever you are eating your lobster, request extra bowls that you can use to drain the juices from your lobster as you go. If you’ve done this right, there will be plenty of said juices. Bibs are optional, and infantalizing, but paper towels are a must. Now for the eating.
5.) Be resourceful.
I like to start with the little legs, which most people ignore. They get cold first and they’re also the sweetest part. Flip your lobster legs side up. Snap off a leg as close as you can get to the body. You may get some stringy things on the end–those are lungs, don’t be grossed out, you don’t have to eat them. But you do want the little lump of meat that’s left in the body cavity when you remove the leg. Use a tiny fork. The leg you can just pull through your teeth to remove the meat like a lobster popsicle. Repeat this process 8 times. Then go for those claws.
6.) Forgo the butter.
If you have successfully followed steps one through five, you won’t need it. Also it’s just so . . . one percent.
7.) Know what to dump.
Once your lobster is legless, you’ll want to go for that tail. Hold your lobster over a bowl and use both hands to break it in half, separating the jointed tail from the body. Tip both halves into the bowl and let whatever goop is in there drain out. If you see orange stuff inside, congratulations, you have caviar. Then drop the body half into that bowl with the rest of the shells. Some people will tell you to eat the icky green stuff, which Mainers call for some reason “tamaley,” but you really don’t have to. This is supposed to be fun, remember.
8.) Enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Use a nutcracker to smash the shell of your tail so that you can pull it apart and remove the chunk of meat. Believe it or not, there’s also meat inside the little flippers on the end, which you may have to snap off separately. Then sit back and relax.
9.) Don’t rest on your laurels.
Before you get too comfortable, remember to take any uneaten meat out of the shell and refrigerate it for lobster rolls or chowder tomorrow. Then move that bowl full of lobster gunk into the trash and take it somewhere where it won’t stink up your house overnight. Tomorrow, eat more lobster!