The Great Maine Lobster Disaster

I may never recover.

Victoria and I have both eaten lobster before. In those few cases, the chunked meat was hidden in the depths of a delicious cream sauce, or in a heaping “I can’t tell if this is chicken, potato or tuna salad” helping of mayonnaise. But other than the few times we ogled them through the dirty waiting room glass of the supermarket tank, we’d never been eye to eye with the creature, much less a recently boiled one.

I know a lot of our readers love lobster, many have cooked them in their own kitchens and many find them absolutely delicious. In no way do I hope to change your opinion on this matter. If you think Lobsters are delicious, then you should keep eating lobsters. I’m simply going to relay our experience, as succinctly and accurately as I can.

Doug's Seafood - The Local's Love It!

As soon as we pulled into our campsite on Wednesday, we asked front desk Mike where we could find the best lobsters. Without hesitation, he recommended “Doug’s Seafood” in Port Clyde. Since we wouldn’t venture out until the next day, we worked up quite an appetite dreaming about the buttery lobster that sat only moments from our campsite. We fell into slumber that night counting sheep-sized lobsters hopping over fences and into drawn-butter bowls.

The next day, after hours of anticipation, we could wait no longer and rolled into Doug’s just past 5:00 in our Oldsmobile, like two anxious early-birders.

For the seafood traditionalist, Doug’s is a treat. It’s a small ice-cream stand of a restaurant built in front of a charming Maine home, with only a couple small prep tables and a few boil-ready pots inside, and one window for customer orders. This place has a legendary local following – it’s where locals go for seafood on the go. The menu featured clams, shrimp, scallops, and haddock. If you could chowder, stew, roll or throw it in a basket, you could get it with coleslaw, fries and a soda for $3 more.

We ordered and walked over to the picnic tables on the lawn.

Soon, the woman appeared from the shack and walked to a trailer near the house’s garage where she grabbed two writhing “bugs” as the lobstermen call them. These, I realized were the chosen ones. The lobsters, on this day, that pulled the short straw. Now, I know they’re all there for only one reason, but it struck me that these little guys had just started their walk down the green mile. Only a call from the governor, or a quick change of order to clams would save these fellas today. And sadly, we weren’t in the mood for clams.

In a few moments, I walked up to the window, grabbed our plates and carried them back to the table, all the while trying desperately to avoid eye contact. We were quite lucky that our plates were made for novices like us and illustrated each delicate step. The first diagram showed a man wrestling his lobster to the ground with the instructions “First, twist off the claws.”

So, we each grabbed our lobster’s body tight, shoved him to the plate and twisted off a claw. Step one complete – so far, so good. But, the next step was to crack open the claw, but the only thing handy was our I-Pad. Victoria opted to ask for a nutcracker and, when she returned, we dug out the meat as the plate described, dipped it in butter and chewed.

The next step seemed exciting. We know, from various sources that the very best and sweetest meat is in the tail section. So, following the instructions, I flipped the lobster over and bent the tail backward until I heard a sickening crack. I say “heard” because at this point, I didn’t want to see what I was doing to the condemned carcass and my eyes were instinctively squeezed shut.

Unfortunately, my eyes popped open a moment after the crack, in time, to see that my lobster’s liver had spritzed everything with a light coating of green liver goo. My glasses, my I-Pad and all the white/red lobster meat were covered with a chunky pea soup.

I looked at Victoria through my green polka-dot glasses as she stared down at the glob of bile lying on the leg of my jeans. As her eyes turned upward to meet mine, we silently knew that our meal was now finished, and take-home pizza was what’s for dinner.

I quickly collected the carcasses, carried them to the garbage can and dumped them – quite an unceremonious burial. We grabbed our chips and looked for something to wipe ourselves clean. There was only a dirty, soapless outdoor sink where we rinsed off and high-tailed it to the car. We stopped at a gas station to fill up, but also to wipe down a bit with some disinfectant soap.

Next time, we’ll just get the clams.