If you live in Nova Scotia and you happen to know a fisherman (no not that kind of fisherman–not the hobby kind–the that’s-what-one-does-for-a-living kind) you can get fresh lobsters just off the boat at the wharf.
Lucky for us, The Doc happens to know a lobster fisherman. This year, because of Covid-19 and the lack of international exports, the price was only $5 a pound. This is good for us consumers but not so good for the fisherman who gets up and goes out on the water at 3:AM to check his traps. Currently, he is only doing this every other day because not only are the local restaurants still closed and the international markets null and void, but on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, for some reason, this season there are less lobster in his particular fishing grounds. This could be due to numerous factors but is likely weather or ocean temperature related. Spring conditions, both on land and off the coast of our fair province, can vary substantially year to year. Other parts of the province are fairing much better in the lobster catching department although there are still very few markets for their product.
This is where the locals come in. We the locals, will make the trip to the wharf or the truck at the side of the road, or the vehicle in the Canadian Tire parking lot or wherever else a fisherman will set up to sell his or her catch. Until The Doc sent a text to the fisherman, we had no idea how low the price was when we decided to have our spring lobster feed. We try to have lobster every year around this time because it is in season and is usually at its best. This time, we purchased more than we usually do and would have bought more than that had it been available.
We the locals cook our own lobster, preferably outside in big pots on Coleman stoves or BBQ side burners. Cooking and eating lobster can be a messy business that sometimes requires the wearing of special bibs or large plastic garbage bags. Once, in my youth, I attended a friends company banquet in a little white dress. Some how, and to this day I don’t know how, I managed to crack, clean out and eat my own lobster without getting any on the dress. Believe me that never happened again. These days, The Doc cooks and shells the lobster and all I have to do is eat it and I still get it all over my clothes. Because, like I said, it can be messy.
Cracking open lobster, depending on the time of year and what they have had to eat recently, can be an adventure. Sometimes they are full of a lumpy green semi-liquid that looks like something between a mashed-pea-baby shit and a mess the cat threw up. This is called the tomalley and can be very sweet and tasty, the regular lobster flavour on steroids, if you are brave enough to try it after seeing it splatter out of the crustacean you are attempting to break open.
Messiness aside, I actually took the curtains down behind our table just in case, we thoroughly enjoyed our lobsters. We served them with homemade dinner rolls and homemade Caesar salad. You really don’t need anything more than this when you are having lobster that you dip in melted butter prior to biting into and depositing a piece on your tongue where you pause for a few seconds to savour that wonderful flavour before you continue to chew.
When it comes to the best lobster meat, there is the tail, a very popular piece for chefs and foodies alike. There are the claws, sometimes not as sweet but often meaty and pleasing to the palate. There are the knuckles and the larger leg segments that attach to the claws, both of which are sweet and tender and are my personal favourite. Then there are the small walking legs that most people ignore; but if you are willing to squeeze and suck the meat from these parts, you will think you are digesting candy because these are, by far, the sweetest part of the lobster. When I was a child, these were the only part I ever ate. Now days I am a bit lazier and prefer larger bites of all the other parts. If you are really determined, you can pick at the rest of the body, excluding the head and brain. Not my cup of tea because there isn’t much meat there and the main body has a fuzzy texture that my tongue just can’t wrap itself around, but believe me, some determined more adventurous tongues will.
We had enough lobster for two meals this week and enjoyed every bite. But for all this enjoyment, my thoughts keep returning to the fisherman who got up at three in the morning and was still on hand after two in the afternoon so that The Doc could purchase some of his catch. To the fact that some days he is not making enough to cover the costs of taking his boat out. Fishing is not an easy career at the best of times. Soon he will switch over to herring, and I hope for his sake that, by then, he will have a good catch and a market to sell this catch to.
Thanks for reading.
Photo: Jenn Stone