Meet Larry... Larry the Lobster
As birthdays go, I'm not one to get that worked up about them, or presents. There's not much I want and I certainly don't hope for or expect lavish gifts that seem to be de rigueur these days. I'll always remember being asked if I knew I was getting the eternity ring the Husband gave me for Christmas several years ago - as if it was somehow something I'd asked for and was expecting or felt I had some kind of right to. I was completely gobsmacked by the question to be honest - I mean, it was a lovely, gorgeous present, but I would never have expected anything like it. And now that I'm on the right side of 40, honestly, what I enjoy about birthdays is the little things, time with family & friends, an excuse to have a little trip out - to a gin distillery perhaps.... I mean if people want to give me awesome things like a ghillie kettle, then that's all well and good, but presents don't matter to me in the same way that they seem to to some people (and I exclude children here - children are perfectly entitled to get excited about presents - I'm not such a miserable humbug...).
|A ghillie kettle - the best 43rd brthday present agirl could get.|
I wouldn't normally talk about birthday presents except that 10 days before my birthday, I received an early present, and a very surprising one at that. Imagine, if you will, the scene: I am taking 5 minutes out on a Sunday morning. My mother in law and her new husband who are visiting for the weekend have taken themselves off for a little excursion, and the Husband and the children are engaged in various bad weather day activities. I am crocheting (rock & roll).
My mother in law and husband return and I hear them asking where I am. "Are you sitting down Sally? You'd better put that crochet down"
And the next thing I know, there's a plastic carrier bag being placed on my knee it feels heavy. Something shifts. I peer into the bag, and see dark shell. At first I think it's mussels, and then, a more vigorous shift - vigorous enough to make me jump and utter a most un-RecipeJunkie-like shriek: for I pride myself on my ability to deal with spiders, slugs and all many of creatures normally assigned the 'fear factor'....
in my defence, I defy anyone who wasn't expecting it not to react in a similar way to having a live, and rather angry, lobster dropped in their lap...
Fortunately, I didn't drop the bag, for if I had, the rather magnificent and indignant (justifiably so) Larry would have been allowed to get loose in our sitting room. His claws were rubber banded together, but he was fluttering the curious flaps he has on his belly in a rather aggressive manner, so I put him back safely in the bag on the kitchen work surface, and went to consult Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (well, his Fish book - our hotline isn't working at the moment...).
Angry and magnificent - could I really bring myself to plunge him into boiling water? Well, depending on your point of view, I'm sorry to disappoint you/pleased to say that I rose to the challenge. Based on Hugh's advice, I popped Larry into the freezer for a couple of hours, and then found the biggest cooking receptacle I could find, which turned out to be the jam pan.
The theory about putting them in the freezer is that the lobster will drift off into a chilly coma and, when you plunge him into the boiling water, won't have time to come to and realise what's happening before it's all too late and you've got a beautifully pink ready to eat lobster ready for nothing more than some lemon juice and a slather of mayonnaise.
Water appropriately salinated, then, I applied the gas and waited for the water to boil - my VEGETARIAN mother in law looking on all the while. And reader when the time came, I did it. Larry went into the water.
How do I feel about this? I did feel slightly queasy about the whole thing, I must admit, but I'm not a vegetarian, and really, I should be prepared to kill something if I'm going to eat it. I felt there was a lesson to teach the children too - something about putting your money where your mouth is...
I have no such qualms about mussels - but they don't look like living things in the same way as Larry the lobster did, all his indignation intact before his swift consignment to the freezer. There was an element of 'face' going on too - I mean, presented with a lobster by your mother in law, what would you do? Wimp out, or rise to the challenge? I'll say no more.
We ate him, Larry. And he was delicious. Caught that morning, my mother in law & hubbie had acquired him from the fisherman who operates off Aberporth beach as he came in from his morning's work. Apparently, as the boat came in, a number of people appeared to select goodies. I've never seen this, and I'm pleased that it happens, because did you know that most of the fine and delicious sea food caught in these beautiful waters around Wales and the rest of the British Isles is all shipped to Europe? It's criminal, but apparently there's no market for it over here. They paid £10 for Larry - which makes me think, I need to get to know the fishing schedules a little more intimately...