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Consider the Lobster
December 7, 2006 5:14 AM   Subscribe

There are many ways to kill a Lobster. Some are cruel, some are extremely complicated, some are painless (or so they say). If you still feel terrible about eating them you can even just try a mock-up.
posted by darkripper (57 comments total)

 
No need to be humane, I say just boil the suckers.

From the Gulf of Maine Aquarium:

How big is a lobster's brain?

Dave Dow, former Director of the Lobster Institute, claims a lobster has a brain the size of a grasshopper's. The lobster brain is primarily just a collection of ganglia, or nerve endings.Side diagram of Lobster with Brain highlighted

It's evident from the lobster brain's lack of complexity that a lobster does not do much deep thinking, adding support to lobstermen's claims that lobsters probably do not feel pain, certainly not in the way humans do.

posted by SteveInMaine at 5:25 AM on December 7, 2006


lobstermen's claims that lobsters probably do not feel pain

At last - the authoritative voice of science speaks out on this issue! Can they help me with the market analysis I'm writing too?
posted by bifter at 5:37 AM on December 7, 2006


lobstermen's claims that lobsters probably do not feel pain, certainly not in the way humans do.

REALLY ? I would never have tought that ! That's nucUlar theory for folks selling woods on a bunch of tubes for make benefit of the great nation of U.S. of A!

Except that if I kick lobestermen in the balls or a dog in the balls, they both show an immediate reaction of avoiding me because a kick in the balls causes various "nervours sensors" on skin to detect the sudden increase of pressure ..which is registered by brain as "pain".

Don't believe me ? Let me kick you in the balls , for scientific research of course !

Call it pain, call it avoidance, call it Margaret I don't care the bottom line is : it may not be human pain, but it is very likely the closest thing to pain.
posted by elpapacito at 5:44 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]




No, elpapacito, I'd rather you kicked a lobster in the balls for research.

If you don't believe the lobsterman, how about Neuroscience for kids?
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:52 AM on December 7, 2006


That's nucUlar theory

The irony of elpapacito making fun of someone's English is hysterical.
posted by grouse at 6:16 AM on December 7, 2006


Didn't the B52's sing about mock lobster?

I'll get my coat
posted by handee at 6:16 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'd say the most humane method is probably to use a knife (though I don't know why the article on that says you should stab it from the top; much easier to turn it upside down and split it, which is how you prepare one for stuffing and baking).

I used to work at a fish market and killed many hundreds of lobsters without much guilt. The one task that got me was cleaning soft-shell crabs. Poor suckers are ripped from the ocean when they're most vulnerable, then, in order to make them safe for eating, you first cut off their eyes and pull out their brains then reach around the side and rip their lungs out. A nasty business.

I can't say much for lobster's intelligence, but they do have some unique skills which have been put to good use: Bomb sniffing RoboLobsters
posted by otio at 6:20 AM on December 7, 2006


I always give each lobster a goodbye kiss before I throw it in the pot so it goes to its reward knowing it was appreciated by someone.

Makes the meat taste better.
posted by briank at 6:22 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ugh Lobsters are the cockroaches of the sea. They'll eat anything.

It's weird that Lobsters have become a delicacy in recent times, they were considered poverty food up until this past century. They used to be used for fertilizer, there was a limit on how many times a slaveowner could feed lobster to their slaves, and Native Americans generally wouldn't eat them because you could just walk out into the water and pick one up (no challenge), but they used them to bait their hooks.

Now they're anywhere form $5-$15/lb at markets, and American lobster is $90/lb in Japan!
posted by splatta at 6:35 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's weird that Lobsters have become a delicacy in recent times, they were considered poverty food up until this past century.

Same goes for oysters - staple to delicacy in a century. Weird indeed.
posted by jack_mo at 6:46 AM on December 7, 2006


Personally I don't much fancy eating something that essentially feeds on fish shit, much less paying premium prices for the privilege... but that's only me.
posted by clevershark at 7:00 AM on December 7, 2006


Watch a lobster molt (You Tube). I've seen this in person and it is amazing. It takes a decent-sized lobster hours to pull itself out of its old shell.
posted by otio at 7:00 AM on December 7, 2006


I personally just cut out the middle man and feast on fish shit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:02 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


"The point is a lobster is a bug. And if you can stomp a roach or smush a spider just for crossing your path, you shouldn't get too teary eyed about sending a lobster to sleep with the fishes, especially if you're going to eat it. "--Alton Brown

Consider that the crawfish is called by many a "mudbug."

Of course, I'm one of the few cajuns you'll meet who doesn't touch seafood, so, what do I know?
posted by MrGuilt at 7:04 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


That YouTube video is great, but can someone translate this comment?
Beautiful lobster, Worth like 250gp on Runescape. LOL jk, anyway ya those fish are just like, "ZOMG WTF?!!!1" great vid dude.
I get that the lobster is attractive and the fish are apparently very surprised by its transmogrification and the poster thinks the video is quite good, but what's this Runescape garbage?
posted by beaucoupkevin at 7:08 AM on December 7, 2006


Why not just hypnotize it first?
P. S. I love lobster. So for all you folks who holler "Cruelty!", or "Yuck! Bugs of the ocean," or whatnot, I say, "More for me!".
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:15 AM on December 7, 2006


Lobster sticks to magnet.
posted by Milkman Dan at 7:16 AM on December 7, 2006


how NOT to boil lobsters
posted by pyramid termite at 7:32 AM on December 7, 2006


"It's weird that Lobsters have become a delicacy in recent times, they were considered poverty food up until this past century. They used to be used for fertilizer, there was a limit on how many times a slaveowner could feed lobster to their slaves, and Native Americans generally wouldn't eat them because you could just walk out into the water and pick one up (no challenge), but they used them to bait their hooks."

More on this topic in the afore-linked David Foster Wallace piece. The effect DFW had on me was to make me question all the other kinds of meat I pay strangers to kill for me. And I am not a patchouli-smeared treehugger by any means.
posted by mecran01 at 7:41 AM on December 7, 2006


Man lobster is tasty, I wish it was still a poverty food. Poverty would be much more awesome then.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:50 AM on December 7, 2006


Crab and lobster squick me out to no end. I sometimes gaze in astonishment when I see someone eat them. I would be no more surprised if someone who was disassembling and consuming a large crab followed it up with a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach for dessert.

Lobster and crab are simply not "food" items to me. The first people to eat that must surely have been on the brink of starvation.

I'm glad someone else sees them as the "cockroaches of the sea". I've used that phrase dozens of times to "oh come on" responses by friends and family.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:11 AM on December 7, 2006


Shrug. A lot of stuff that looks gross is delicious. Not everyone likes lobster, but if you won't try it simply because of looks, you're crazy.

Now I'm jonesing for a lobster roll.
posted by agregoli at 8:14 AM on December 7, 2006


"Maybe we should just call the police. Dial 911. It's the lobster squad. It'll turn up in our bed at night. Talk to him. You speak shellfish...Annie, there's a big lobster behind the refrigerator. I can't get it out...Maybe if I put a little dish of butter sauce here with a nutcracker, it will run out the other side?...We should have gotten steaks, 'cause they don't have legs. They don't run around."

Didn't think this thread would be complete without at least a reference to this scene. Alas, couldn't find a video clip.
posted by otio at 8:37 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Not everyone likes lobster, but if you won't try it simply because of looks, you're crazy.

I avoid them out of consistency. Arthropods disgust me, they are aesthetically revolting creatures, and there's no moral difference between land-arthropods and sea-arthropods. What's crazy are people who eat lobster or crab but are revolted when the indigenous people on TV eat crickets or ants or grubs with great gusto.

Also, I don't see the point; it hardly tastes like anything. If I want something to put butter all over, I'll have a tasty, dirt-cheap bowl of popcorn, thank you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:51 AM on December 7, 2006


Your dog I want steak.
posted by Joeforking at 8:58 AM on December 7, 2006


To this whole thread: hey!
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:58 AM on December 7, 2006


It's weird that Lobsters have become a delicacy in recent times, they were considered poverty food up until this past century.

That's overfishing for you. Nothing like low supply to boost prices — or high prices to boost prestige.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:07 AM on December 7, 2006


agregoli: You're right to a certain degree, but I've found that my "visual" assessment of food tends to correlate with my "taste" assessment practically 100% of the time. I'm sure there's some influence going on there though.

I mean, in lots of ways I wish I could muster the fortitude to eat a lobster. The people that do seem to enjoy it.

But, the people that eat raw squirming eels and tentacles seem to enjoy it to, and that's simply not going to happen.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:17 AM on December 7, 2006


One of the last meats I ate pre-vegetarianism. Those bastards thrash around like mad when they go in, and I felt sick to my stomach after doing it...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:22 AM on December 7, 2006


Julia Child microwaves a lobster:
"Have you ever tried cooking a lobster in it? A horrible experience! You turn it on, the lobster begins leaping around, and it's an awful thing. Do try it if you want an awful experience."
posted by Huplescat at 9:38 AM on December 7, 2006


I am from Maine, and I'm going to let you all in on a little secret because I love you all so much. Now, pay attention because after I spill the beans I will not be allowed back in the state, ever.

Lobster is a prank. Lobsters are disgusting bugs and mainers never eat them. They sell them at inflated prices to tourists and then they just about pee themselves laughing when you're out of sight. In elementary school, we had drills to stifle our laughter while we watched film strips of people from away eat lobster.

The next time you are in Maine and order lobster, look at your server's face when she comes back to your table. It isn't all blotchy just because she's been out back smoking pot and getting fondled by the dishwasher-- she's also laughing at you for falling for our great secret prank.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:39 AM on December 7, 2006 [8 favorites]


Cooking anything, especially anything alive and potentially mobile, and weighing a bare minimum of 3/4 lb (well, if you bother with minimum size laws, and different laws apply in different places so you may well be legally able to buy lobsters smaller than that), by dropping it into boiling water, seems to me to be a ridiculous thing to do because hello, boiling water everywhere.

Take a lobster or two. Put it or them in a pan. Add hot water. Bring to the boil and boil for 15 to 20 minutes with none of this traumatic screaming and flailing. Serve with new potatoes and some salad or vegetables. Of course, if you have to buy the lobster, I think I'd recommend buying something else instead, but apparently a lot of people like it.
posted by Lebannen at 9:58 AM on December 7, 2006


agregoli: You're right to a certain degree, but I've found that my "visual" assessment of food tends to correlate with my "taste" assessment practically 100% of the time. I'm sure there's some influence going on there though.

I'm talking about people who won't even TRY something like lobster because the look of it disgusts them. If you've had it and don't like it, fine, but if you won't try it on principle because it "looks like a bug" than I'm going to think you're just a big baby and pretty boring in the food department.

What's crazy are people who eat lobster or crab but are revolted when the indigenous people on TV eat crickets or ants or grubs with great gusto.

Doesn't bother me to watch that.

I like lobster but I prefer crab.
posted by agregoli at 10:11 AM on December 7, 2006


Also, I don't see the point; it hardly tastes like anything. If I want something to put butter all over, I'll have a tasty, dirt-cheap bowl of popcorn, thank you.

Another comment I chuckle at - it doesn't taste like anything to you but everyone's taste buds are different and to some it's quite delicious.
posted by agregoli at 10:13 AM on December 7, 2006


Lesson 1: Humans were meant to work and sweat to earn a living. Those who try to get rich quick or live off the expense of others all get divine retribution somewhere along the line. That is the lesson.

Lesson 2: Survival of the fittest is the law of nature. We deceive or we are deceived. Thus we flourish or perish. Nothing good ever happened to me when I trusted others. That is the lesson.

Lesson 3: Lesson! Lesson! If you see a stranger, follow him!

Lesson 4: Learn the lessons so you don't have to learn them over again.

Lesson 5: And what's the real lesson? Don't leave things in the fridge.

posted by Smart Dalek at 10:15 AM on December 7, 2006


agregoli: I'm only partially ashamed to say I'm guilty as charged. I can't bring myself to put a lobster tail in my mouth. Hasn't happened. Won't happen. Sorry. There are lots of things I won't eat, and some of those I regret... but the stuff from the water is so revolting I can't get in the frame of mind of why someone would want to even try it. It's like saying that cow dung really is great once you get past the texture.

Of course, I'm not suggesting other people should adopt my viewpoint... just describing mine.

With that said... ewwwwwwwwwwww.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:25 AM on December 7, 2006


"Lobsters are the cockroaches of the sea."

"The point is a lobster is a bug."

"...there's no moral difference between land-arthropods and sea-arthropods"

"Lobsters are disgusting bugs"


At last, sensible like-minded folks.

Now if we could only convince my wife.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:29 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


mr_crash_davis, follow the link. There is a nice chart of the different animal families involved.

Realistically, how many intervertebrates don't illicite some degree of an "ick" factor?
posted by MrGuilt at 10:36 AM on December 7, 2006


I prefer beef myself. Much more of a challenge, chasing them around the kitchen, getting a pot big enough. Sucking out the legs not as easy.
posted by hal9k at 11:06 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


My favorite TV lobster death was on America's Test Kitchen: Julia Collin just took a big chef's knife and cut a live lobster in half lengthwise in one big crunch, then as it flopped on the cutting board, calmly remarked to the camera, "Oh, some twitching is natural." Couldn't find video of it on-line, though.

Myself, I won't eat them. Have you looked at them? THEY'RE GIANT BUGS, MAN!
posted by Shoeburyness at 11:43 AM on December 7, 2006


but the stuff from the water is so revolting


Swims in it's pee,
not for me.
Pees on the ground,
it's great going down.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:55 AM on December 7, 2006


Also the David Foster Wallace piece above is fine reading, no matter where you fall on the issue.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:01 PM on December 7, 2006


Lobsters present a theological challenge to my atheistic tendencies: they take all the foul putrid piss, shit, and refuse of the sea as well as from land and turn it into lobster. Those who've been to one of Mayor Curley's Laugh factories and tasted of the flesh surely are aware of this conundrum.
posted by sarcasman at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2006


How could we have gone this far in the discussion without bringing this up? (Youtube)
posted by evilcolonel at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2006


The one thing that Former Chef Fiance absolutely, positively, refuses to eat is lobster. He says all he can think about is the hundreds he had to butcher over his cheffing years.

Well, lobsters and swordfish. Because of the worms.


Me? I think lobster is nummy.
posted by josingsinthehall at 1:06 PM on December 7, 2006


beaucoupkevin : but what's this Runescape garbage?

Google tells me it's a game. Some kind of MMORPG apparently.
posted by quin at 5:33 PM on December 7, 2006


I don't much eat sea food anymore, but I do enjoy watching the Wife's puffers eat crayfish, lobsters and crabs. (Yes, the damn fish eat better than we do.)
posted by quin at 5:45 PM on December 7, 2006


From the Neuroscience for Kids link:

"Exactly "what" they "feel" is a question that remains unanswered."
posted by Sukiari at 7:52 PM on December 7, 2006


What's crazy are people who eat lobster or crab but are revolted when the indigenous people on TV eat crickets or ants or grubs with great gusto.

Hence the name...
posted by bugmuncher at 8:25 PM on December 7, 2006


Ralph's sells live lobsters out of a tank. Now that my son has taken to naming them and imagining their colorful backstories, I find that I'm a lot less willing to drop one in boiling water or split one of those buggy little heads in two with a carving knife. Nothing like a kid to ruin seafood for ya.
posted by maryh at 12:28 AM on December 8, 2006


It's weird that Lobsters have become a delicacy in recent times, they were considered poverty food up until this past century.

That's overfishing for you. Nothing like low supply to boost prices — or high prices to boost prestige.


Or just a sign of changing tastes. Eels used to be a popular food in the US, now they are mostly reserved for Japanese restaurants and otherwised scorned.

Personally, I prefer their smaller, fresh water cousins. Dem mud bugs so good dey make yo tongue slap yo brain, hoo-ah!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:14 AM on December 8, 2006


Once, a very long time ago, some friends and I *thought* about putting a live Lobster on a nice hot barbecue grill, and then putting the lid down to prevent any escape. I still think it was worth a try, experimentally.
posted by gsb at 1:19 AM on December 8, 2006


I'm going to think you're just a big baby and pretty boring in the food department.

Yeah, but that's because you eat bugs, and you still haven't got the joke. I completely fail to understand why people think that people who don't share their tastes for not food are somehow lesser people because of it...you seriously think someone's a "big baby" because they won't eat lobster? Why do you even care? It means more sea bugs for you! And you can have my share too.
posted by biscotti at 5:21 AM on December 8, 2006


it doesn't taste like anything to you but everyone's taste buds are different and to some it's quite delicious.

No, gonna have to go with him on this one. Lobsters taste awesome smothered in butter. But cook one without some time. Meh. Conclusion: it's the butter. Crab has more taste, but is basically in the same boat. Man, I hate improperly prepared lobster. What a waste.

But then, I'm an equal opportunity bug-eater. It's not the "I won't eat lobster" people that are silly. It's the "I love lobster but I'd never touch a cricket" folks that are.
posted by dreamsign at 8:23 AM on December 8, 2006


Lobster has a nearly indefinably sweet, meaty flavour, couched in a lush, moist flesh that is so far removed from "bug" that I am left quite a bit baffled by those who can't get over the outward appearance.

I can easily compare lobster (and shrimp, crab, and crawdads) to bugs as I've willingly eaten bugs. Ants and crickets.

There are those who can't taste the meat very well, I don't think, as they are the folks who say things like, "it's the butter". I've quite enjoyed any of those creatures simply boiled, with not even salt. Lobster's particularly delicate flavour is incredible to me, considering the job it performs in the oceans.

I've two reasons for eating very little lobster in my life: shortage of funds and recognition of the issues caused by overfishing. When funds are not an issue, I am very careful to only choose from sources that don't worsen the negative food chain situation developing in our waters.

Humans are omnivores, and the luckiest sort - we can pick and choose amongst many options for nourishment and gustatory delight, to the point that members of similar cultures and social backgrounds can view each other's food choices as alien or foul, even when a food item is demonstrably non-harmful and within our dietary purview.

Fascinating stuff.
posted by batmonkey at 9:05 AM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Lobster has a nearly indefinably sweet, meaty flavour, couched in a lush, moist flesh that is so far removed from "bug" that I am left quite a bit baffled by those who can't get over the outward appearance.

When I ate large crickets off a bug cart in Bankok with some Thais, the first impression they wanted was "Does it taste like prawn?"

I suspect that those of us who have consumed bugs have done so in distinctly different ways than how we prepare lobster. The meat doesn't seem that different. The fact is that most land bugs get roasted before being eaten. Do that to a lobster and see what happens to that lush, moist flesh.
posted by dreamsign at 9:52 AM on December 8, 2006


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