Maine lobsters salute you
Lobsters and lighthouses. There’s no escaping the iconic ‘odd couple’ of summertime Maine. They are to our visitors Down East what the Statue of Liberty is to Manhattan, the Strip to Las Vegas, the cherry trees to Washington DC.
Lighthouses and lobsters speak to our maritime heritage, though Maine is the most-forested state in the Lower 48. We look seaward, to the dawnland, as people here have done for over 10,000 years. And there’s something about that lighthouse ‘beacon in the night’ and its warning “there be rocks here” that both thrills us and engages our sense of guardianship.
So pity the poor lobster. The centerpiece of the feast. The scarlet litter of a thousand bakes, boils and beachfront picnics.
They, too, have been here for more than 10,000 years. But only recently did they become the fare of princes. Before Boothbay Harbor was the summerplace of the Industrial Revolution’s ‘captains and kings,’ the lowly lobster was food for the poor and the imprisoned. Picked up off the beach and out of tidal pools, lobsters were plentiful enough to feed families through the hard times. And though their blood is, in fact, blue because their systems are based on copper not red-blooded iron, they did not become the darlings of the blue-blooded set, or served in the finest dining rooms of Europe until much later.
So how did they become crustacean caviar? (Yes, the tamale too.)
Truth be told, lobster became a mainstay of the state’s economy, now fiercely guarded with “Maine Lobster” labelling that rivals Champagne (don’t call them Maine lobsters unless you can prove it!) about the same time as tourism did. Visitors from away sampled the tasty treat along with the salt air and thrilling views of lighthouses and wanted to take more than memories home. Lobsters started appearing on the vacationing ‘rusticators’ tables back ‘in the city’ and soon serving lobster was as much of a status symbol as having an embroidered lizard on your shirt (or tiny lobsters, themselves, on your pants.)
Here at Spruce Point we want to let you in on one of those secrets that help you create Oceanside memories made in Maine: the best lobster is the one you eat here. If the right glass improves the taste of the wine, because it stretches its “legs” and brings the hidden aromatics to your nose, Maine seaside air, New England sunshine on your shoulders (and the carefree ease of your bathing suit if you choose to enjoy your lobster at dockside or Deck) brings out the best in Maine lobsters. And should you time it right, the incomparable taste of a sweet, soft-shell “shedder” – so delicate it does not travel far without extensively careful packing – will be your ultimate reward.
Lobsters (and blueberries) are in plentiful supply, and presented in various forms, here this summer. The classic, steamed, is always on the menu. Bon appetit, Monsieur Homard salutes you.