The Maine lobster is a well-known delicacy around the world, but it wasn’t always that way. The lobster didn‘t start to become a delicacy until people from Massachusetts and points beyond developed a taste for it. Before then, it was not only deemed a food for those in poverty, but used as bait for other seafood. Some indentured slaves from Europe had a clause in their work agreements stating they were not to be fed lobster more than twice a week! My how things have changed.

According to Guinness World Records, the heaviest crustacean recorded was an American lobster caught off Nova Scotia, Canada, weighing 44.4 pounds and measuring 3.51 feet. That is one large lobster! Lobsters can be blue, green, purple, even yellow and every now and then red (before cooking). In some places in Italy it is illegal to cook a live lobster.

Did you know that the $8 lobster you order up at any lobster shack along the coast is most likely sweeter and more tender than the $80 Maine lobster served up in a fancy restaurant in France? Why? It’s all in the shell.

We here in Maine have access to soft shell or new shell lobster, which is the stage right after a lobster molts and loses its old hard shell. At this point in time the meat is very sweet and tender. As the shell ages the meat loses some tenderness and sweetness. But soft-shell lobsters ship poorly, and often will arrive dead.

The harder-shell lobsters ship well around the U.S., and the hardest-shell lobsters can survive longer trips around the world, so although it is quite expensive, the quality is lower. Lobsters generally molt from late summer through fall, so those are the best tasting lobsters you’ll find. There really is a reason why lobsters taste better when eaten here in Maine.

Did you know you can ask for a male or female lobster when ordering one? There’s good reason to know. The female lobster has a wider tail and smaller claws, while the male has a narrower tail section and larger claws. So if you prefer the meat of the tail, ask for a female, if you like claw meat more, ask for a male. How to tell the sex? One way is to check out the swimmerets or feathery appendages on the underside of the body; the uppermost pair of them will be soft and feathery on a female, while the male’s will be hard.

The governor last year proclaimed October as Maine Lobster Month because that is the month with the heaviest catch, but there’s no need to wait until then to celebrate and enjoy the lobster in its many, many forms. Did I say many? There are lobster bottle openers (Corn Shop Trading Co, Bridgton), lobster gift tags, chocolate lobsters, gummy lobsters and lobster bumper stickers to go with your lobster license plate. Maine’s own Jeff Pert is the foremost lobster cartoonist and you can find him on face book: www.facebook.com/pages/Jeff-Pert-Cartoons/107793822579022

There are recipes for chocolate sauce on lobster (http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/chocolate-lobster/Detail.aspx ). You can order postage stamps with lobsters on them (http://www.zazzle.com/lobsters_postage-172002740066107541). Stop in at any Reny’s store and you can find lobster-shaped pasta (www.renys.com/). For more information about lobsters go to www.lobsterfrommaine.com, and for more on lobster clothing go to www.lobsterline.com.

For other ideas about lobsters check out the following and mark your calendars:

Maine Lobster Ride and Roll

Rockland

623-4511

http://www.maine.info/cities/rockland/events.php

July 23: This is the 10th Annual Maine Lobster Ride and Roll sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. You can choose the length of your ride from 16 to 100 miles and see spectacular ocean views. At the end enjoy a lobster roll and receive a pair of lobster ride bike socks. So if you’re into biking, this “road trip” is for you!

Maine Lobster Festival

Park Drive

Rockland

596-0376

Aug. 3-7: I don’t think there is anyone in Maine who has not heard of the Maine Lobster Festival. Serving up tons of lobsters, all sorts of activities, music, Maine arts, harbor cruises and a parade. Don’t miss it!

Bath Sweet Shoppe

19 Centre St.

Bath

443-4221

http://www.bathsweetshoppe.com/

Visit the Sweet Shoppe for some unique chocolate lobster dinners, complete with chocolate corn on the cob and butter. They also make lobster gummy candy and lobster lollipops for your sweet tooth.

Culture Label

11 Chance St.

Shoreditch

London E2 7JP

Telephone: +44-0-207-749-6857

http://www.culturelabel.com/lobster-gift-tags.html

Looking for an unusual and unique gift tag? Then check out what Culture Label in England has to offer.

The crustaceans are hand embossed by a gentleman named Guido who lives in Germany, and sold by Culture Label. They sell for 5 pounds plus 14.95 pounds shipping, which translates roughly to $32 U.S. This packet includes three lobster tags and some colorful string for tying.

Cook’s Lobster House

68 Garrison Cove Road

Bailey Island

833-2818

http://www.cookslobster.com/

Cook’s is not only a well-known Maine restaurant but also houses a gift shop featuring many local artists’ creations. You can sit and watch the boats in the bay and view the newly refurbished Cribstone bridge while you enjoy your lobster dinner.

Five Islands Lobster Co.

1447 Five Islands Road

Georgetown

371-2990

http://www.fiveislandslobster.com/

For the real Maine experience Five Islands is the place to go. There is no indoor seating so you can take your food to go, or sit and enjoy it there on the wharf while enjoying the sights of one of Maine’s prettiest harbors, complete with beautiful sunsets over the islands, sail boats and seagulls.

Live locally and don’t want to drive down to the coast? Here are a few places to satisfy your lobster cravings in the area:

Gendron’s Seafood

1292 Lisbon St.

Located just off exit 80

Lewiston

784-2646

http://www.gendronsseafood.com

This is not a restaurant. This is a great place to buy lobsters locally and they also have clams and crabs too. Stop in and talk to them and bring dinner home.

Larochelle’s Seafood

22 Mill St.

Auburn

782-3150

You can buy your lobsters live or cooked. In season they provide a dinner in a bag complete with lobster, corn on the cob and red potatoes ready for you to bring home and eat. They sell more than lobster, so give them a call or visit them in New Auburn.

Mac’s Downeast Seafood

894 Minot Ave

Auburn

777-5871

www.macsdowneastseafood.com

If you haven’t stopped in at Mac’s then put it on your list of places to go. Try out their clear meat lobster roll or any other tasty offering on the menu. You can buy live lobsters or, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of cooking and cleaning all the meat, you can buy clear lobster meat from them. They do the work for you. And keep an eye out for a future expansion to this local eatery.


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