Shell No!

Enjoying a meal is about more than just taste. Our other senses play an important part in the experience. Based on what my five senses experienced this weekend, I can make the entirely unbiased and super-scientific statement that lobster is the worst food I have ever eaten and possibly the worst food on the planet. All five of my senses agree with me when I say that there is nothing worthwhile or redeeming about lobster and no one should ever willingly consume it.

disgust

Well, let me take that back – it’s probably okay to eat if you’re starving and have no other option. If little Christian Bale could eat maggots to survive in Empire of the Sun, I guess lobster couldn’t be much worse.

empire of the sun

So here’s a summary of the assault on my senses my first and last time trying steamed Maine lobster, in order of attack. Trigger warning: may contain graphic descriptions of disgusting food.

SMELL

As I expected, there was a slightly fishy smell in the restaurant, but I don’t really mind fish. The lobster itself didn’t really smell fishy. It was something I’d never experienced. Somewhere between musty and earthy. I can’t really describe it, but I think it was the smell of wet shell. How’s that for appetizing?

SOUND

When my food was delivered I wasn’t sure how to even start so I Googled “How to eat a lobster” and found these handy instructions:

Lobster

The whole endeavor sounded pretty violent to me. Arch the back until it cracks? Unhinge the back from the body? I wasn’t sure I was capable of ripping something apart with my bare hands, especially something that had just been alive twenty minutes before.

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The cracking sound was just painful to listen to because it sounded so heartless and violent, like an assassin snapping his victim’s neck. It’s a sound I can only associate with gritty crime dramas and I couldn’t bear it. After a few wimpy attempts, I finally had my husband do the deed.

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My husband tells me I made this face for 45 minutes straight until we left the restaurant.

TOUCH

The feel of lobster in my mouth was probably the most unbearable part of the whole experience. When I took my first bite, I guesstimated what an appropriate “bite-sized” portion would be and I was so very wrong. I put too much into my mouth and I instantly regretted it. My husband was ready for me to throw up at any moment and I wasn’t in a position to contradict or reassure him. It was touch and go there for a while.

How do I describe the texture? It’s like when my son chews on his “Read Every Day” silicone bracelet except ten times more thick. Worse than shrimp or crayfish, it was a strange, new sort of chewy with moments of unexplained crunchiness and lots and lots of unwanted sliminess. From the first bite I was filled with instant buyer’s remorse. I just thought, “What have I done? And do I really have to eat more?”

TASTE

Taste? Was there a taste? The lobster I ate came with three options: 1) Bland, 2) Bland drenched in unsalted butter, or 3) Bland drenched in lemon juice. The meat itself had no flavor. I was expecting it to taste like fish or shrimp or crab or something, but it was just blank.

SIGHT

The waiter asked if I wanted to choose my own lobster from the tank. I politely declined because why would I want to watch those legs crawling around just minutes before seeing them on my plate? And the tentacles flicking? I’m not a big fan of sea creatures anyway, and I prefer to have some cognitive distance (even if it’s imaginary) between living creatures and the food on my plate. With lobster, you don’t get any of that. There are body parts everywhere.

That looks too much like a stingray tail. Thanks, but no thanks.

That looks too much like a stingray tail. Thanks, but no thanks.

Tails, antennae, legs, claws, unidentified tendrils and shells and creepy crawly things – there was no tricking myself into forgetting this was a sea creature.

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When following step 4 of the instructions (“Bend back and break the flippers of the tail-piece”), I shrieked as I lifted up the flippers to find rows of little legs (I don’t know if that’s really what they were, but that’s what they looked like). When I bent the back, it made the creepy little legs start wiggling as if the lobster were still alive and trying to escape. Just thinking of it now gives me the heebie-jeebies. It was just so wrong. I did not need to see that. No one needs to see that.

As we waited for the check, I looked at the table with body parts strewn everywhere and I had to cover my plate with my bib so I wouldn’t have to see any more carnage, which of course made it look like a coroner’s office. I’m not sure that image was any better.

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This was my husband’s second time trying lobster. The first time was when we were in Bali eating in an open air restaurant on the beach with a band playing outside. He didn’t like the lobster then either, but the band played this song as we ate:

We don’t have any special connection to that song, but because of that dinner, it’s now one of our favorites to sing. The lead singer couldn’t pronounce her R’s, so we got the giggles as she twied (oh, how she twied) and she pwayed (oh, how she pwayed). It was by far the best version of that song we’ve ever heard. Now that was a treat for the senses.

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7 thoughts on “Shell No!

  1. Yes. This. I felt exactly this way when I went to a big-deal east-coast Crab Boil. Everyone raved about this thing, and they cover your table in newspapers and then LITERALLY DUMP a vat of hand-sized crabs ALL OVER THE TABLE and you’re supposed to dismember and EAT them. I thought I was going to vomit. I almost started crying.

    ALL THE LEGS AND FEELERS AND EYES!!! I averted my eyes and concentrated on the salad. Everyone around me was grabbing them and the sound of cracking and shells and slurping… the urge to vomit was worse than when I was 3 months pregnant.

    Never again.

  2. Which is a long way of saying I’m a squeamish wimp. I’d be happy with a humanely presented crab cake- I even like crab- but I grew up on the Pacific, where crab is big and they don’t make you dismember 12 of them to get a tiny pile of meat. I’d eat a lobster roll. But so help me, the entire body of my dinner never ever, no never, belongs on my plate. 10,000 years of human development grants me an indoor kitchen, and a restaurant where I pay for my food to be separated for me.

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