In what I think is a stellar follow-up to last weeks’ Blood in the Water piece, John C. Foster, author of Mister White and the incredible horror-noir novel The Isle joins us today with a most disturbing look at a favorite delicacy that has the potential to generate nightmares. John’s a much better author than I am so I’m going to shut the fuck up, get the hell out of the way, and let you get on with learning more about a particular crustacean than you ever thought you’d need to know.
In Russia, Lobster Eats You!
by John C. Foster
“It was a claw,’ my father told me, and his voice was a whisper. ‘A severed lobster’s claw over a foot and a half long and black as night, still clinging to the anchor chain and preventin’ her from retracting fully.”
— THE ISLE
I saw a lobster tortured to death in Tokyo.
The chef pinned a living lobster on the flat metal surface of a teppanyaki grill and dug the tip of a knife into the separation of the torso and tail. Lowering the blade swiftly, the chef bisected the tail. The lobster spit and screamed. I felt the liquid on my face. The chef proceeded to do as much structural damage as he could to the lobster before it died, cutting off claws and legs before finally chopping the torso in half. I was sitting at the counter with two other Americans and the chef enjoyed our horror.
Lobsters are predators and will resort to cannibalism when necessary.
Lobsters were once considered a garbage catch that cluttered fishing nets, fit only for prisoners. Fortunately, this was before my time and I was raised in New England to love lobsters prepared in the proper way – which means boiled or steamed. Yes, this is done when they are alive, which is arguably cruel, but it is how I was taught and how I prepare them. A lobster should be boiled for seven minutes for the first pound and an additional three minutes per additional pound beyond the first. The shell can be broken with a metal cracker or by hand and it’s best to have a long, narrow fork to retrieve the meat. The lobster is eaten by dipping chunks of meat in drawn butter, sometimes called clarified butter, which is pure butterfat separated from the milk solids and water. When I’m at home I simply melt it in the microwave and to hell with the separating.
A lobster’s stomach is filled with teeth resembling human molars.
A one to one and a half pound lobster is usually sufficient for most adults, if accompanied by sides. Two pounds and larger are reserved for heroes.
The largest lobster recorded was caught off of Nova Scotia and weighed 44 pounds, six ounces.
Lobsters are caught along the northeast coast of the United States, with Maine being the richest territory. Lobsters are also caught in Canada, just up the coast, but I would no sooner eat them than I would choose Tim Horton’s over Dunkin Donuts (this is a lie, I will eat Tim Horton’s donuts and Canadian lobsters when they are offered). It’s a serious business to mess with a lobsterman’s lobster pots and retaliation can be violent.
The squeeze of an average lobster’s claw is 100 lbs of pressure per square inch.
Lobsters are alien, insectile and prehistoric, as strange as they are delicious. They swim backward and grow segmented armor. When a lobster is seven years old it begins to molt its shell and continues to do so once per year after that. Lobsters show no signs of senescence. They do not age the way other living creatures do—they don’t lose reproductive ability, decrease in strength or slow down their metabolism.
The biggest lobster ever measured was three and a half feet long.
It is suggested that a lobster will never die of old age if it does not meet a violent death. If they continue to grow with age and are essentially undying, how big can a lobster get? At an age of 75-100 years, a lobster will weigh approximately 25 lbs. Does it stand to reason that a 200-year-old lobster would weigh 50 lbs? A 300-year-old lobster?
The average lobster can swim at 11 mph. The average human can sprint-swim at 3.7 mph.
Could a lobster eat a human being? There are no records of lobsters eating people, but coconut crabs have been known to eat mammals on land and considering the voracious predatory appetite of lobsters, it stands to reason that lobsters in sufficient numbers or of significant size would eat a human being given the opportunity. I explore this idea in THE ISLE, in which a remote fishing community has incorporated lobsters into their daily lives, making toys and decorations from their shells, eating and selling them…and in the right (or wrong) circumstances, fearing them.
“Some break in the assault of other sea creatures had allowed the crustacean to take hold and dominate. “Locusta” in the Latin. Unchallenged and grown huge, aggressive, cannibalistic in a closed ecological system. We trod across empty claws and hollowed tails, the chitin crunching beneath our feet. At one point we were forced to turn back and skirt wide around the edge of a cave, around water so full of lobsters that they crawled over each other like enormous ants as their horrible warbling beat against our eardrums.”
— THE ISLE