Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: Back to the future past

A good ol’ lobster dinner can traverse time and place

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Either way, you can pretty much go for a lobster any size up to 5-7 pounds and have a great meal or three. After that, the meat gets stringy, and you probably won’t have a pot big enough to cook one, anyway. In the good ol’ days they got even bigger, hauling in lobsters that hit 40 pounds, but those are rare now.

People who prefer the tail meat over that of the claws — and there are supporters in both camps — advise choosing a female, whose tail section is wider than a male’s to provide space to carry her eggs. One lucky guy at our table even got a female with eggs and feasted on the bright red roe.

If you’re up for a picky good time, and why not at a laid-back lobsterfest, then take apart the walking legs and back and you’ll find little tid-bits in there, too — some say it’s the best.

As for the green stuff inside, that’s the “tomalley” — the lobster’s liver and digestive what-nots. While some people swear by it, at least in bygone days, you won’t find many recommending it now for that’s where pollutants from the lobster’s own dinner will be stored.

These nocturnal bottom-dwellers scavenge for dead animals that have sunk to new lows, but they eat live fish, other animals like mussels, crabs and sea urchins, and seaweed, too. Keep in mind that lobsters are related to wood lice and other crustaceans, then you’ll understand where they’re comin’ from.

Whatever you choose, make sure you get a live, whole, healthy lobster to cook up your own ’fest. This isn’t some sadistic ritual cranky East Coasters thought up — lobster meat goes off very quickly, so it’s important to cook it while it’s alive. And, no, don’t store it in a tub of cold, fresh water when you get home — fresh water will kill the poor thing.

Here’s another tip: don’t eat cooked lobster with a tail that isn’t curled as that means it was dead before it was cooked.

A two-pounder should do an average person fine. Our fishmonger sells them (live) at $17.99 a pound so this is no cheap treat but, oh, is it fine. And you don’t need a drop of melted butter to enjoy it, but go ahead — lobster is naturally healthy with only 98 calories per 100 grams (beef has 200 calories by comparison) and low levels of cholesterol and saturated fat.