The best possible thing to do on a gorgeous summer day in New England: lobstering!
H & I went to historic Plymouth, MA for our first lobstering excursion. What better location than the place where the Pilgrims landed in 1620? I wonder if they knew what delicious delicacies these waters held.
Our morning started with meeting our friendly lobsterman for the day, the father-in-law of H's school acquaintance. We were even introduced to neighbors of his that were guides in the public television show where people lived as the pilgrims did for a week- how much more local can you get?
After loading onto his little boat, we headed out into the harbor and we started pulling up his lobster pots. Lobster pots are basically wooden or plastic crates that are loaded down with bricks, filled with bait, and dropped into the water. A buoy is attached to the pot with a rope and floats on the surface of the water to indicate where the pots are. Each lobsterman (or lobsterwoman) distinctly marks their buoys so that they can identify them. Anyone can get a license for up to 10 pots, but anymore than that and you need a commercial license.
H pulling up a pot
H & I took turns pulling up pots, and trust me, you get quite a workout. Not only are you using your arms to haul these heavy things up, but you have to make sure you are balanced enough not to fall out of the rocking boat!
The first 15 pots we pulled up yielded nothing but small blue crabs, some spider crabs, and hermit crabs. No lobster- apparently there haven't been many recently. I was getting slightly disappointed when voila! Two lobsters in one of my pots.
If you have lobsters in your pot, you take out them out (trust me, they were squirmy) and turn them over. If there are eggs underneath, it goes straight back into the water no matter what size it is. If there are no eggs, you use a little metal tool that measures the length of the lobster. One end goes into the lobster's eye socket (the eye retracts), the other end goes along the head toward the tail. If the other end is still along the head, it's big enough to keep. If the other end is at the tail, it's too small and goes back into the water. There's also a new law that if a lobster is bigger than a certain length, it also has to go back into the water because it helps to maintain the population.
Banding the Claws
After you determine that a lobster can be kept, you use a tool to place a rubber band around the claws. This is important because it protects human hands, but it also keeps the lobsters from fighting each other in the tank. Lobsters are quite aggressive, and they can take each other's claws off. Luckily, they grow them back eventually.
I guess I had beginner's luck: I got 5 lobsters, and H got 2. A few of mine only had one claw, but we kept them anyway. We also tried fishing but didn't manage to snag any striped bass.
Our share of the lobsters came to 4, so we had a feast that night of steamed lobster, farmer's market sugar snap peas, and heirloom tomatoes. It was the best steamed lobster I've ever have, not hard to believe since I burned the calories to haul these beauties and they were only 6 hours fresh from the ocean.We steamed all four, ate two, and now I'm trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers. I've got an idea brewing, but we'll see if it turns out as good as it tastes in my head.
Summer is spectacular.