Friday, 7 January 2011

Maine Lobster at "The Club"


I had begun the day in notable style, arriving back at 10 in the morning wearing a pirate hat and santa pants.

A few hours previously the Russian's younger sister had mistakenly stolen a suede coat, a couple of leather jackets and a car, but still proved no match for my fearsome negotiating talents...

She might have my trousers, but I have her hat.

I had evidently navigated a peculiar evening with some panache, but even so I was more than a little concerned by what the next one had in store. We were due to visit a fairly hardcore South Carolina private members club ("No Negroes please, unless you're staff" kind of thing) for Lobster Night. Of course it wasn't the crustaceans that concerned me, more the unfortunate possibility that I would get drunk, run amok and then somebody would shoot me.

My compadre, however, was going to be of little use in the melee, as he had seemed somewhat listless all day. At one point that morning he *may* have been sexually assaulted by a photographer (male), and later had definitely agreed to go on a hunting tour of Argentina. Even a takeaway pizza and some fine 1980s Burgundy had failed to put the fight back in him.

Stoically determined to ingratiate myself with the locals, I armed myself with a stiff-upper-lip, a tweed jacket, a number of fictional stories about shooting things, and a bunch of racial stereotypes and made for The Club.

America is a land of superlatives: Most, Best and Biggest are ways of life, but first among these is Most. This is evidenced clearly in the country's approach to eating lobster. For a start the American doesn't "catch" a lobster as you or I might, he "harvests" it. In the state of Maine alone he did this to over 35 million kilos of the buggers in 2009 with a street value approaching $330m. 10,000 kilos of this is on hand for the five day Maine Lobster Festival, where the 100,000 or so visitors can tuck into the $34 Triple Lobster Dinner. The Club's Lobster Night was no more than a drop in the metaphorical ocean. Still, it was going to be interesting to see how the American Lobster stacked up against our own smaller European variation.

We began with a salad so unpretentious that they hadn't even bothered to mix the ingredients, some iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber and cherry tomatoes were arranged in clumps on a small plate.

Before the main event we enjoyed wide-ranging conversation, covering hunting, shooting, fishing, the global warming conspiracy and the shortcomings of foreigners. I recall being a little disappointed with the size of my lobster, which was served with a couple of potatoes, some winning corn-on-the-cob and a little pot of melted "butter" in which to dip the flesh, as is the custom in the colonies. I say "butter" because, although I left it untouched throughout, at no point did it solidify. Presumably the same mutant cows that make squeezy cheese out of a bottle.

Once accessorised with some mayonnaise the creature proved more than acceptable. It seemed slightly less sweet and full flavoured than a good Scots lobster, and the claw meat was a tad watery, but all-in-all I was pleasantly surprised. Not the best, nor the biggest, but they've got the other one to a T.

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