The Lobster vs She’s Fried
Warning: this blog post contains graphic images of careless fabrication and self-mutilation.
As an omnivorous human, I embrace my creature-eating desires but also feel some responsibility to understand what it feels like to sacrifice a creature you’re going to eat. I’m not overly sentimental about it, but I do believe in karma.
[Fast-forward to live. Me writing blog post when kids enter, living room left: “I see two armpit hairs, I see two armpit hairs!!”, bellows the boy, fresh out of the shower. He’s got his arm curved upward, nose-to-pit. The girl sucks her teeth, “You do NOT have armpit hairs.” Scampering over, he shoves his underarm up in her face. “Eww, that’s dirt!”, she says. “Did you actually wash?!”]
In the face-off between me and The Lobster, there were no winners.
But first, there was oyster and clam shucking.
The clams held tighter than their plump, briny cousins, but we got the hang of it soon enough.
Pry open the shells by sticking the shucking knife into the “hinge” on the back.
Loosen the oyster membrane from the shell.
I was the only one in the entire class who ate a few of the oysters on the half shell, if you can believe it. Many were literally afraid to eat them, wincing at the suggestion. I get the feeling that Food Network has spawned a generation of people who have confused actual culinary passion with remote culinary aspiration. Or maybe they’re just young. I don’t know.
Chef next introduced us to the team of lobsters who were going to sacrifice their lives for our culinary education, and lunch. He showed us how to paralyze the crustaceans, fabricate them (cut them up) and separate the tomalley from the roe:
Looks good, right?
These bad boys, err girls, were going to be baked, with breadcrumbs. Others were steamed. Kind of exciting to think about eating something I’d dispatched with (compassionately, of course), even though I don’t especially like this preparation. If my somewhat cavalier attitude rises your bile, you might want to go do something else now. Or, you could hang in and get some not-so-deep-seated glee at the impending karmic retribution. Your choice.
This is The Lobster, MY Lobster. I asked Chef to again show me the correct spot to stun the lobster. By mistake (oops!), he slid it in by the tail shell, not up in the head. The Lobster flailed a bit, then I inserted it in the correct spot, but probably not as decisively as I should have. He moved a bit, but I kept fabricating until he didn’t move any longer. In a moment, The Lobster, such as I had known him, had morphed from living creature into food.
And then, revenge from beyond. I pulled out my paring knife to remove the rubber band from the claw and made one slash to slice off the now-pointless shackles. Fine. Then the other. Not fine. I got some resistance on the band and the knife somehow slipped, slicing a fairly shallow cut across my thumb knuckle, landing a deeper gash to the right of my left hand’s first finger.
Chef was very attentive, as were my teammates. Being new to the school, he wasn’t sure of the protocol. He asked the receptionist about a medic. Apparently not. He was clearly not too jazzed at her “ditzy” lack of assistance. I kind of knew I needed to have the thing checked out. It was a pretty deep slice. But I really didn’t want to miss the rest of class: lobster, fritto misto and baked clams for lunch and fabricating chicken and duck in the afternoon. He was told that Beth Israel’s ER was on W. 23rd and that’s where I should go. The Boss and I looked at each other. We knew there was a hospital on E. 23rd, and thought it might be a wing of Beth Israel (which I knew also had a main building on 1st Ave and 17th St, since I gave birth there, twice). I was bummed, but I left, and took the bus East.
When I got to the hospital, which was NOT Beth Israel, the guard asked if I was a veteran. Um, no. Why? Because Bellevue only treats veterans.
I decided to head back to Brooklyn, where I spent 3 hours at Methodist Hospital’s ER. The shot of lidocaine and 4 stitches provided a welcome snap of closure for a torturously boring afternoon, waiting alone with only my dying iPhone and no additional reading material.
I was touched by the texts from class, checking in. “A” offered to bring me leftovers. Nice.
Revenge of The Lobster
Needless to say, the kids and I went out for dinner. They gave me birthday presents: a sweet ring from the boy, a lovely necklace from the girl and together they got me the gift I’d been requesting for a while: potholders.
No way I’m getting burned.