Europe’s the mayonnaise, but America supplies the good old lobster.
~D.H. Lawrence

The sequence goes something like this.  First, lobsters often live in muddy and murky crevices on the sea floor. Then, clawed lobsters (Homarus americanus + Homarus gammarus) are lured into traps offshore ofttimes on the bottom of the chilly northern Atlantic. They frequently stay in the traps baited with dead fish for a couple of days. Once the rancid cages are brought aboard, they are often placed in chilled holding tanks, so when trapped and pulled onto the deck the lobsters will be cold enough to make the return trip.  They are brought into the bay and distributed to trucks, still alive, for transport to local and distant restaurants and stores.  Once bought, they soon meet their maker in the steamer or boiling water.

At first in this country, lobsters were so copious and abundant they were only fed to slaves, indentured servants, prisoners, paupers, lower caste folks, and poor children — much to their chagrin. In contracts, employers went so far as to bar impoverished employees and laws were even passed, from eating this demeaned crustacean more than twice per week. Other than that, these “bugs” were deemed worthy of only being used as fodder, fertilizer, fish bait and fed to goats and pigs.

No longer.  Now, these omnivorous and sometimes cannibalistic sea scavengers which eat bottom food are the grub of the genteel. Moreover, the leggy lobster population is sorely depleted due in large part to the warming and acidification of the oceans which degrades their hard exoskeleton, giving them a form of osteoporosis.  They, along with other shelled animals, are unable to extract calcium carbonate from the water.

A lobster fishermen’s job is quite demanding and rife with risk, darkness, sea swells, fierce body slamming wet sprays and for those unfortunate enough to find themselves overboard, the frigid drink.  As big pharma loves to tout, sometimes this seemingly serene drug can result in death.

LOBSTER WITH FETTUCINE, TAGLIATELLE, OR PAPPARDELLE, GARLIC & CREAM

2 lobsters, 1 1/2 lbs each

2 T butter
1 small carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
bay leaves
A few thyme sprigs
3 C water

3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
4-6 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 t hot red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 C white wine
1 1/2 T tomato paste

3/4 C heavy whipping cream
1 lb linguini or pappardelle pasta, fresh or dry (if dry, follow the instructions on the box)
3-4 T chopped parsley or cilantro leaves
2-3 t lemon zest

Steam or boil lobsters for 5-6 minutes. Cool to room temperature under somewhat cool water. Separate claws and tails from lobster heads and remove tail meat from shell. Pull away black vein and discard, then cut meat into 1/2″ slices and set aside. Firmly yet gently hit claws with a wooden or metal mallet, without removing meat, and set aside.

With a heavy blade, split lobster heads in half lengthwise. Remove and discard stomach sacks and tomalley, if wanted, and roughly chop tail shell. Heat butter in a heavy saucepan or skillet over medium high. Add heads and shells, with juices, and sauté for about 1 minute. Add carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add 3 cups water and simmer rapidly for about 10 minutes to reduce by half. Strain, discarding shells, herbs and vegetables. You should yield 1 1/2 cups rich lobster stock.

Wipe pan with a towel or paper towel and return to stove over medium high heat. Warm the extra virgin olive oil in the saucepan or skillet, then add diced onion, garlic and hot pepper flakes. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring, until onions are completely soft, about 12-15 minutes.

Add wine and simmer rapidly for 2 minutes, then add tomato paste and lobster broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then add cream and simmer until sauce has thickened somewhat, about 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and adjust seasoning.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Once roiling add pasta and cook until al dente. Reheat sauce, add cracked lobster claws and simmer for 2 minutes. Add sliced lobster meat and cook for a minute or less, until just heated through. Drain pasta and add to sauce, tossing to coat noodles with lobster, then transfer to serving bowls. Arrange one claw on top of each serving and sprinkle with parsley or cilantro and lemon zest.

LOBSTER SALAD

2 lobsters, 1 1/2 pound each

1/2 C homemade mayonnaise (see below)
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
2 t thinly sliced chives
1/2 C basil leaves, chiffonaded
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring amply salted water to a boil in a large, heavy pot and cook the lobsters for around 6-7 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the water and allow them to reach room temperature by running them under water. Once cooled, remove the claws and knuckles from the lobster, cut the lobsters in half lengthwise and trim off the smaller legs. Remove the lobster meat from the shells, reserving the bodies and cut the meat into 1/2″ pieces.

Accoutre the lobster meat with mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on small salad plates.

Mayonnaise

4 large local egg yolks, room temperature
2 T Dijon mustard
2 t white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 t sea salt
Tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

1 1/3 C canola or grapeseed oil

Separate egg whites from yolks. Egg yolks contain a natural emulsifier, lecithin, which helps thicken sauces and bind ingredients.

With a balloon whisk, whip together the egg yolks, mustard, wine vinegar or lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper in a medium glass or metal bowl. Do not use plastic.

Add a few drops of oil while whisking; then pour in the oil slowly, in a very thin stream, while whisking vigorously with the bowl tilted at an angle on a folded towel. The emulsion should become thick enough to hold its shape and appear voluptuously creamy. Be patient because if you add the oil too rapidly the mayonnaise will break and turn soupy.

If the mayonnaise is too thick, it can be thinned by whisking in a little water.

Stored in the refrigerator, the mayonnaise should last 4-5 days.

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Pleasure is divided into six classes: food, drink, clothes, sex, scent and sound.
Of these, the noblest and most consequential is food…the pleasure of eating is above all pleasures.

~Al-Baghdadi

From the word tagliare, meaning “to cut,” tagliatelle is a traditional pasta from Emilia-Romagna, a poetic region in central northern Italy between the fertile Po River and the gentle Apennines and bordered on the east by the Adriatic. A culinary constellation, Emilia-Romagna is home to such rustic cornerstones as prosciutto di Parma, culatello, mortadella di Bologna, zampone, Parmigiano-Reggiano, aceto balsamico

Tagliatelle are long, flat, thick ribbons with a porous texture that are similar in shape to but a little wider than fettuccine. Legend has it that a talented Renaissance court chef was so enamored by the noblewoman Lucrezia d’Estes’ beautiful blonde tresses, that he dedicated this new pasta to her on the occasion of her nuptials to the Duke of Ferrara. The wedding dish was called talgiatelle all amaniera di Zafiran, which means in the manner of Zafiran or saffron. However, this tale may be born of more questionable food lore. The actual nascense of tagliatelle may have been much earlier, as it was depicted in texts well over a century before the wedding.

Eggplants of all shapes, sizes, colors and varieties are ubiquitous this time of year at our local farmers’ market. So, I am regaling in those dark, suave ones.

Buon appetito!

TAGLIATELLE E MELANZANE (TAGLIATELLE & EGGPLANT)

2 medium eggplants, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/4″ slices
Extra virgin olive oil
Canola oil
Red wine vinegar
1 C fresh basil leaves, ribboned
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 superior anchovy filets, rinsed, dried and chopped
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 C arugula

1 lb. tagliatelle, preferably fresh

Parmigiano reggiano, grated

Pour equal amounts of olive oil and canola oil into a deep, heavy pan until about 2 1/2″ deep. Heat oil until hot and fry eggplant slices one layer at a time until browned on both sides. Remove and drain on paper towels, then cut the cooked slices into thirds. Place on a platter and sprinkle lightly with red wine vinegar. Then toss with basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the eggplant to marinate for about an hour.

In a deep, heavy skillet, heat the anchovies and garlic in olive oil heated to medium high. Gently sauté for a few minutes, then add the eggplant. In a heavy pot filled with liberally salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and add to the skillet. Season again with pepper, add arugula, toss and serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.