Our cottage was a short walk from the lobster fishing pier. On our first morning, Mike walked down to investigate the fishing activities. He was delighted to find the lobster fishermen unloading their morning catch onto the floating dock. The dock was about 15 feet below the level of the pier at low tide. Mike stood on the pier and looked down to watch their work. The fishermen bantered back and forth about their day on the water as they carefully lifted squirming lobsters from their boat to the baskets on the wooden dock. One older fisherman feigned straining grunts as he lifted a load off his boat. They joked about how “heavy” their baskets were when in fact, the fishing had not been so great that day.
We brought the children down later to purchase our own lobsters for cooking. The man in charge on the pier explained that the lobsters we would buy are the “soft shells”. These are lobsters that have recently shed their old shells are were growing into new, larger shells. He explained that there is not as much meat, but what’s there is sweeter. He told us the soft shells are the locals’ favorite. Mike felt intimidated by the thought of preparing the lobster on his own. He’d never done it before. We got directions from the lobster man at the pier and it didn’t sound too difficult.
The cooking was easy, but figuring out how to pull the meat out of the shell was both unknown territory and slightly tough on the stomach. If you don’t break things in the right place, you find parts of the lobster not meant to be consumed and preferably not viewed either. We’re usually separated from the initial preparation of the animals we eat. We found that the romantic notion of buying lobsters right from the fishermen and cooking it at home was better left as a notion. We discovered we would rather sit in a restaurant and have our lobster served in neat little portions and leave the cooking and pulling apart to the cooks. Still, the whole process was educational and part of what we hoped to experience during our stay in Maine.