Cooking With Fire: Lobster

by | Sunday, July 21, 2013 | 0 comment(s)

On Saturday I tagged along (as I do most years) with my husband, Stephen, to the annual Audiofile lobster bake in Boothbay Harbor (a picturesque, mid-coast Maine village for those of you unacquainted with our local geography).  Stephen is an audiobook narrator (among other things) and Audiofile is the industry magazine which is published right here in Portland, Maine.  The Editor/Publisher is gracious enough to open her camp up to about 100 people every summer for what is, in my opinion, the best lobster/clam bake EVER!  And I’ve grown up on the New England coast,so that’s saying something.

There is no easy, backyard way to have a lobster bake--you need a beach, seaweed, ocean water, and fire--before you even begin to think about lobsters and clams.  The easiest way I’ve found to enjoy a lobster bake is get myself invited, via Stephen, to Boothbay for the Audiofile’s lobster bake.  If I am so moved to have lobster at home--I simply steam them.

Of course, the flavor difference is amazing...the lobster bake leaves everything super fragrant and lightly smoked.  Once it’s on your plate there is much less water in the lobster then there would be with steaming or boiling, which makes is neater and easier to eat (though you still need to drain it-just not so much).  A steamed lobster is really an unadulterated lobster flavor--super sweet, sometimes almost too sweet. 

I asked Martin Page and his crew if I could photograph them while they prepared the feast and they were very kind and let me get in their way.  Martin is a Mainer--Maine is a place you live in out of choice, even if your family has been here forever.  In many parts of Maine it’s necessary to work multiple small jobs to keep afloat.  Martin does things like this lobster bake, he has a wrecker, and is the local port-a-potty guy--yes, the port-a-potty at the party was one of his units.  Martin had also worked as a commercial fisherman off Newburyport and Plum Island, Massachusetts (my hometown ).  He didn’t like the nature of the work (and I don’t mean the fishing itself), but the method: A plane would direct them to a school of fish and three boats would go out and net the whole lot.  He feels that dollar signs and natural resources are a dangerous mix.

The following photos are a walk through the process--the lobsters and clams are alive until they are cooked, it can be a bit disquieting.  But it is part of our tradition.  Lobster bakes are not solo things; they bring people together, community and food, nourishing to the body and spirit.   



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