Remember the movie Funny Girl? The one starring Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice? Remember the scene where Nicky Arnstein takes her to Maine and introduces her to lobster? And she eats herself stupid?
Since arriving in Maine I’ve had lobster in just about every way it can possibly be prepared. I’ve had lobster bisque, lobster stew, lobster pot pie, and a lobster sandwich. I’ve had lobster atop a Caesar salad. But until last night I hadn’t splurged on a whole lobster. Since I will soon be leaving Maine, I figured it was now or never. My server suggested a 1 1/4 pound lobster, which sounded just fine to me. A few minutes later, she plunked down a veritable lobster feast in front of me. On it was an entire lobster – claws, head, body, tail and all.
Now, I’m not a particularly squeamish person, so the antennae and the itsy bitsy feet didn’t really bother me. My problem was how to eat it. Whenever I have previously ordered lobster the tail has always been extracted from the shell.
The first thing I noted was that the server brought me an extra plate that held a large cotton dish towel, a wet nap, a tiny fork, and a set of claw-crackers. Oh boy, I thought, this is going to be messy. I have peeled crabs before, so I have a general idea of what it involves, but I was totally unsure of which parts of the lobster were edible and how to get into it to begin with. Trying to be inconspicuous, I caught the attention of my server and asked for directions. She explained the process and then left me to my own devices. I cracked, bent, pulled, dug, and generally decimated that lobster, sucking every last morsel of juicy flesh from the shell and then licking my fingers to boot.
“You did pretty good, what with it bein’ your first time and all,” my server later commented.
“Yep, I did,” I replied, proud of my skills. Now all I had to do was clean myself up.
I wiped my hands on the dish towel. I broke out the wet nap. I squeezed lemon juice into my palms and rubbed them together. I’ve since returned to my hotel, taken a bath and a subsequent shower, but I just can’t get the smell of lobster off my hands. I’ll bet Fanny Brice never had this problem.