Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lobster Night

My friend Pam held a girls-only Lobster Night at her house in Burbank the other night. That's her adorable son Hunter eyeing the cooked product. What a feast!

Sort of...

I arrived to find the lobsters alive, of course, in a cooler full of salt water, awaiting their demise. I lifted the lid and glanced inside -- and that was my undoing. There the ugly little creatures lay atop one another, feebly waving their antennae. Lack of oxygen in the water had reduced them to weary acquiescence. I hadn't ever met my food before I ate it before. I felt a stab of pity as I realized these creatures were already dying. And soon I would help cook them alive and eat them. Oy. My stomach gave a lurch.

Then Pam's friend Dorothy, expertly grilling the veggies, told me how sometimes they try to scuttle out of the pot as they cook... Dorothy laughed at this thought - and at my face as I felt another jolt of queasiness.

I did not enter the kitchen as the live lobsters were taken in for the finale. I was later told how they reared up to avoid the boiling hot water as they were lowered into it. Maritza told me that she just convinced herself that they were big ugly bugs who deserved to die. I tried to convince myself of that. I really did.

We began with salad, grilled veggies, corn on the cob, bread... All delicious. I was filling up fast. Then the lobsters, now a beautiful red, were brought out. I watched as the other women ravenously dismembered the shellfish, plucked out the juicy meat, and ate it.

I felt sick. And hypocritical. I eat meat. I eat pork, chicken, shrimp, fish... why couldn't I eat these lobsters? They were already dead. If I didn't eat mine, someone else would. But I just couldn't do it. I had one bite of one of Dorothy's claws, all buttery deliciousness, and that was it. I tried not to watch the exoskeletons and black/green guts pile up on everyone else's plates.

Ann-Marie took my lobster home for her husband, and she even paid my share of the lobster cost, most generously. Later on there were strawberries and shortcake. The conversation and company were wonderful. But I couldn't help feeling the ghosts of those eaten lobsters hovering over my shoulders.

No, I haven't turned vegetarian. I love meat - as long as I don't meet it first.

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