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Lobster love


Lobster loveBy Amy Kane
It is a delicacy that can cause grown men and women to tie ridiculous plastic bibs around their necks in anticipation of the savory, sometimes splashy, feast ahead.
The rich, sweet taste of lobster, with its sea-salty tang, is like no other.
Hard to believe they were considered by early New England colonists to be an undesirable food.
At one time, Massachusetts passed a law forbidding the cruel and unusual punishment of serving a lobster dinner to prisoners more than twice a week.
Now one of the most popular seafoods, the U.S. lobster fishery generates roughly $300 million a year.
Eating a boiled or steamed whole lobster "in the rough," armed with claw crackers, pick and lots of napkins, is a rite of passage for locals and visitors alike.
Lobster rolls are easier eating, with meat and mayo in a hot dog bun.
Lobster salad is lighter fare. Lobster chowder and bisque are favorites for cool days.
Luscious lobster pies may be made from secret recipes handed down for generations. (Cooked in single serving dishes, they don't have a real pie crust, usually just breading or crumbs.)
Throw caution to the wind and try fried lobster -- you can log more miles on the treadmill later.
Crustacean cravings can be satisfied at any number of flip flop and family-friendly places in the Seacoast. The ambience is beachy and casual, and the location never far from ocean breezes.
"Live lobsters," say the signs. Salivary glands kick into overdrive.
Driving by is unthinkable.
Pick your own takes on a new meaning as you lean over the tank and peer into the depths at a tussle of lobsters pulled from local waters.
A 1½ pound lobster will cost you about $8 to $12 per pound right now.
While your lobster is being prepared, find a picnic table under an umbrella, sip an iced tea or cold beer, admire the lobster trap and buoy décor, and consider a few facts about Homarus americanus:
• The Maine, or American, lobster is a bottom-dwelling marine crustacean found on the continental shelf from the mid-Atlantic to Labrador.
• Lobsters mature in five to eight years; they can live almost 100 years.
• Most lobsters weigh a pound to a pound-and-a-half when caught. The largest ever landed weighed almost 45 pounds.
• A 1 pound lobster is known as a chicken. Female lobsters are called hens.
• Fresh lobster meat, before butter or other additions, is 90 calories per 100 grams, high in protein and low in fat.
According to Paula Wood, an employee at Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook, it's a myth that the big ones don't taste as good. She shared a 16-pounder with family members for her birthday.
"The claws when you open them slice like steak," she said.
Dwight Souther is a lobsterman whose family has fished the New Hampshire Seacoast since 1650. He operates the 35-foot Lady Skye out of Seabrook, hauling 150 to 200 pounds of lobster per day, two or three days a week.
A pound per trap is an average haul in New Hampshire waters, he said.
Early to midsummer prices for lobster can be a little high, according to Souther, because that's when lobsters stop eating, bury in the sand, and shed their shells, so they're harder to find.
In August, they're back and they're hungry.
If you get a watery lobster with less meat than it looks like it should have, it is because the lobster has a new shell and has just started eating again and not quite filled out yet.
Souther said he thinks the best time to get lobster is the first spring run, when they come in from winter's deeper waters, around March or April.