It's hard for me to imagine all of the ways that people are eating lobster nowadays. Our favorite way to eat lobster is right out of the ocean, steamed in a big pot of water, and eaten with just a little bit of butter. Lobster is so naturally delicious that it just doesn't need any accoutrements. But, like bacon, there are now numerous ways to enjoy this already delectable and tasty treat.
But first, like I said, in our house we eat lobster right off the boat. I usually send Herman a text or give him a quick call and ask him to bring lobsters home for dinner. He will give me a call when he leaves the boat and let me know he is on his way home, and I'll start the water on the pot on the stove. We only put a couple of inches of water in the pot and then as soon as it starts to steam we add the lobster. We cook them till they turn red, and then drop them on a baking sheet and put them on the table. We serve them with some bread and melted butter, and let the lobsters shine. Usually less than an hour has passed between when the lobster is caught and when it hits our table. Now that's sea-to-table fresh. And, when visitors travel to Maine, they can enjoy this experience as well.
There are many locations around the coast of Maine that sell lobsters right from the boat. You can see the lobster boats in the background; the traps sitting on the shore; the buoys piled up against shacks near wharves; and of course, the fishermen moving from boat to truck or dragging crates of bait or lobster behind them. It's usually pretty intimidating for a tourist to walk onto a wharf and ask a fisherman for lobsters. Wharves are usually not set up to sell lobsters either, and sometimes it's not safe. Wharves are slippery, guys are moving quickly, and you could end up standing right where they need to put something — like smelly bait! Because of this there is usually a shack or stand set up nearby that sells lobsters. Buying lobsters from a stand like this is your best option; this way you're not interrupting people that are working, and you can take your time and ask the person selling lobsters lots of questions, and you can still enjoy the view without worrying about smelling like bait later on.
Sometimes near these quaint lobster shacks are also picnic tables where you can sit and enjoy your lobsters. (You should know, sometimes the little stands are there just to sell lobsters so that you can bring them home and cook them.) If the stand is set up so you can sit and enjoy lobsters, they are usually served either steamed or in a lobster roll. Not only is it absolutely delicious, but cleaning lobsters at a picnic table near the ocean with your loved ones creates lasting memories. (And visitors cleaning lobsters provides a great deal of entertainment for locals. But don't worry, we won't let you struggle too long. There's usually someone nearby willing to lend a hand.)
You can also find lobster at most restaurants around the state. Menu items range from fried lobster to lobster salads and lobster rolls to lobster tacos, surf and turf, grilled lobster tails, and the latest trend: lobster mac-n-cheese. These varying and interesting preparations even get seasoned-Maine-lobster-eaters to order new and different lobster items off of the menu. And, of course, there is the advantage of no clean up (!!) in a restaurant.
If you're a seasoned lobster-eater, perhaps you can encourage your friends to try lobster in a variety of ways so they can join in on the many lobster debates we have along the coast: Which is better, hard-shell or soft-shell? Do you put lettuce in your lobster roll? What about mayo or lemon? The one thing I think we can all agree on: lobster rolls belong on a New England style bun. This bun is split down the middle and flat on both sides; perfect for grilling with a little butter. There's just no other option. Take a look at this video with Adam Richman of the Travel Channel for his choice for Maine's best lobster roll.
So, next time you're in Maine, I suggest branching out and trying some of the seemingly-odd ways that you might see lobster used. Mainers have been cooking lobster in a variety of ways for a very long time, and we know our product pretty well. If you're going to try lobster mac-n-cheese or fried lobster, or cleaning a steamed lobster for the first time, the coast of Maine is the place to do it.
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