The claws are out

16 08 2009


There were five of them.

Five oversized, somewhat sluggish crustaceans resting comfortably in the tank at Giant Eagle. They were piled on top of their counterparts. Claws rubberbanded together. Enjoying the flow of cool water on top of the fish case.

Julie_and_Julia_wallpaper_09_1024x768_largeThat was, until a recent day. The idea of cooking five live lobsters was daunting. In the midst of the book “Julie and Julia,” the author had just wrapped up telling me in a particularly fucking hilarious chapter how she committed crustacean murder as per one of Julia Child’s French recipes. It sounded stressful.

Back to giant eagle. The seafood dude was chatting with a friend until I interrupted him with a request. I need five lobsters. Particularly chill ones. So I can kill them. He proceeds to pull out one of those little claw crabber things that I’ve seen people use to get cups off the top shelf. He pulls one out. It’s….blue. Aka. DEAD.


“Whoops.” he said. He just set that on top of the case. A sight of what’s to come.

Then, at an incredibly slow pace for handling clawed animals, he extracts five crustaceans and sets them, two apiece, into yellow cardboard boxes that have giant holes inside. The lobsters, about 1.5-2 lbs, barely fit, and their antennas are sticking out. At this point, a small crowd has gathered. Some look amused. Some look annoyed that the seafood dude is wrapped up extracting fresh fish for kill.

At this point, it occurred to me that I really wish I had finished the rest of my grocery shopping for this situation. But, lo and behold, with a cart full of boxed lobsters, we navigate down the aisles looking for sour cream and paprika while those purchasing Huggies and coffee eye the large red antennas protruding from the card. What?

Back to the tank. Seafood dude then relayed the following information.

1. Lobsters can live out of water for nine hours.

2. You can keep them in the fridge to “stun them”

3. If they get pissed, just rub the back of their shells. Oh yeah, right. WTF.

Checkout comes and goes and the lobsters are now in the trunk of the van. Where does one put a crustacean guest in their vehicle? In a cooler? On the floor? In a seatbelt? Nay. The laundry basket. Obviously the best locale.

To add context to this tale, the lobster fest was a secret, a suprise meal for my dad’s birthday. So complicating the situation was not only traveling with such beasts, but then sneaking them into the house, then cooking them secretly. Thank god we got him a basketball hoop for his birthday to distract him from the pending Kitchen carnage.

Prep for the meal came and went — the five lobsters, who we refused to name for fear of attachment — chilled, quite literally, in the fridge. Indeed, seafood dude, they were stunned.


The instructions on the side of the box were clear: Bring water to a rapid boil. Plunge lobster in headfirst. Slam lid on. Boil for x amount of minutes pending on the poundage. We had about 7 pounds total and two very not-adequate pots. For once in my life, I actually waited until the water boiled. Big old fucking bubbles baby. It boiled so much, it actually evaporated a little bit. The water portion of this endeavor took a good half hour. We had shrimp on the grill at the same time. Shellfish be warned, you will be consumed ASAP if you cross me.

While this is all going on, my brother is filming on his iPhone. It comes time to remove the first lobster and plunge it in, headfirst, into the pot. Tongs in hand, they slide down into the box. While tongs are not adequately designed to wrap around a big fucking red shell, it kind of grasped the first guy ok.  Two things were in the front of my brain — plunge the guy in quick, and it’s not going to scream (they don’t have vocal chords.)

So after holding it headfirst over the steaming hot water grimacing for about 3 minutes, I did it. I plunged it in. It went. thank god. “Did you say a prayer?”  my friend asked?


The fucker started clawing the sides of the pot.

Hence, why you need a lid.


Lobster number two. The big guy. 2.5lbs. Specifically for the man celebrating his birthday. He was unruly. Fell out of the tongs twice and could not give a shit that I was rubbing his 2.5lb shell.  Do it fast, my brother and his wife shouted. Hurry up! So, lobster-in-tongs, I moved it to the pot. It plunged down into the wa-…some resistance. He fought back.

He stretched his shitty little body out and braced himself against the side of the scalding hot pot. It kind of looked like this:

NOBut opposable thumbs prevailed and he found himself in the pot. As did the following three lobsters. 20-25 minutes, they were cooked. 30-35 minutes later, they were eaten. Humans 5, Lobsters 0.

A video version of this story can be found at:




One response

24 08 2009


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