Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Lobby the lobster

You should never give a name to an animal that you intend to eat. It may affect your future meat consumption. But more about that later.

I ate lobster on Saturday night. I know what you’re thinking…

“Lar-dee-dar – listen to yer man. Who does Devlin think he is? Prince Elvis or somebody?”

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But it’s not as posh as you think. Saturday night’s feed was a pre-cooked frozen Canadian lobster from Asda. Seven bucks, I think it cost. The verdict? It was OK. It was tasty enough but the tail was a little tough in parts. Still, it was good fun extracting the sweet meat (a large nut-cracker came in handy) and it was a nice change of pace from habitual Irish tapas on a Saturday night. The only embellishment for the meat was melted butter, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt.

But Saturday night’s devourment put me in mind of two lobster-related stories, from days gone past. The first is a cautionary tale about laughing at the wrong time.

It was about six or seven years ago and Steve was visiting chez Devlin with his Japanese girlfriend. After some nibbles and a beverage or two (spirits were high), we decided to play Stop the Bus (the party animals that we are).

It’s that game where you have a list of categories (animals, countries, boys names, foods etc) and then you have someone run the alphabet through in their head before another person says, “Stop the bus.” The letter they stop at becomes the start letter for the categories. So for the letter B, you could have babboon, Belgium, Brian, banana etc.

The winner is the person who can fill all their categories the fastest. Get the picture? Excellent.

So anyway, it was my turn to stop the bus and we landed at the letter R. Everyone started frantically filling their categories and Steve’s Japanese girlfriend, Natsuko finished first. I can’t recall what the categories were, except one was ‘animals’. Fair play to her, English-as-a-second-language Natsuko ran through her answers until she came to ‘animals’ but what she said next caused my heart to stop with hilarity. For animal, she goes, “Robster?”

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I almost passed out but when I managed to get a hold of myself I couldn’t help but laugh, loudly and long. The downside was: When my laughing subsided, Natsuko was really annoyed with me. Worse still, my apologies didn’t hold any water.

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Anyway, that’s not the main story here. ‘Member I said not to give a name to an animal that you’re going to eat and that it might affect your future meat consumption?

Well…

Once upon another time, Herself and meself were in Westport for a short break. It was a two-nighter at a hotel on the old port and it being Westport and all, it was another of those occasions when we enjoyed some nibbles and beverages.

Anyway, on the morning that we were to return home, I spotted a fishmongers selling lobsters (or ‘robsters’, as Nats would call them – soz!) out of a big tank.

Nothing would do but I had to buy one – a big lumbering lad, with elastic band around his claws. But there was one thing I needed to know from the helpful fishmonger:

Would the robster survive a three-hour car journey home prior to cooking (you’re not supposed to cook them after they’ve passed on, you see)? And, I was reliably informed, yes he would.

Thus with the advice from the ‘monger to cook as soon as we returned to Chez Devlin, Lobby the Lobster was purchased, packed in seaweed and off we went.

Upon arrival at the homestead, I immediately filled a stockpot with water and brought it to the boil. But, as you’ll know, it takes a while to bring a large pot of water to the boil and until then, Lobby was rehydraded in a sinkfull of water. He floated around for a while, regarding me coldly with his black eyes.

Dropping a lobster live into boiling water is the traditional way of doing things, although admittedly, on the face of things, it feels cruel. There’s another dispatching method whereby you use a knife to the back of the head and yet another where the robster goes into the freezer for a while to stun its system before going into the water. But it was while we was waiting on the water to reaching boiling point and Herself was talking about the freezer method that Lobby keeled over. He was in the sink at the time and I know he passed on over because – literally – he went belly-up.

With the ‘monger’s warning to cook as soon as we reached home and with Lobby passing on in that very moment, I was left with no choice but to act. Luckily, the water started boiling and without another moment’s hesitation, Lobby was plucked from the sink and dumped into the boiling water.

“EEEK!” goes Lobby and “EEEK” goes Herself.

Upside-downsides.

Downside: Herself didn’t want anything more to do with this so-called lunch. It didn’t matter when I tried to explain that Lobby didn’t actually scream and that the sound was just air expanding out of his body like a whistle being blown (I later learned that lobsters don’t have vocal chords and so Lobby couldn’t have screamed even had he wanted to).

Nor did it matter to Herself that Lobby seemed to have already passed on in the sink. I could only assume therefore that it was the naming that done it, as well as our constant wondering on the way home, “Do you think Lobby is OK in the boot?”

Upside: With Herself’s new-found reluctance with lunch and faced with a whole cooked lobster, I was left with no choice other that to eat the whole thing on my own.

Mighty tackle, he was too.

Thanks Lobby.

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