Story by Gabrielle Eitienne, Photos by Chris Ramiah
We are no longer in Brooklyn, as we fly down back roads in a pickup; towing 70 pounds of lobster; 20 pounds of clams and 10 pounds of Mussels. Our worries fade away into the local landscape, and you can smell the green on the trees. Our driver, a local carpenter who knows the roads better than google maps; leads us back from the ocean into the campsite I’ve accepted as my home. It’s been three days on Lake Pemaquid and each day exceeds the previous. Because it’s not already enough to have connected with Nature, awaken to the unimaginable scenery and breath the freshest of air; NOW it’s time to eat.
Large metal pots over a gas lit flame are filled with beer, and brought to a boil. As the shells full of meat are poured in. Like clay chimes the mussels and clams create music. Let’s not discuss the sound of the Lobster as they went into their bath, not hardly as magical. After a few minutes a giant metal spoon turned the shells and brought the sweet open morsels of sea gold to the top, pushing down another round to be opened. Before re-lidding the pot we were offered a taste, this being my first time with steamer clams I grabbed one and like the mussels I didn’t hesitate to tear the meat from its shell and toss it like a kernel of pop corn. And that was a mistake a won’t soon forget; grit and God knows what scraped my fillings as I attempted to play it cool hoping no one noticed. But Justin, the chef de Cuisine of the night did; and he offered a few tips on easy ways to peel the neck of the clam.
It became easier after the first pound or so, and soon it was a fluid motion; and then they brought out the melted butter. Which took the clams to a whole new level. Malty, and sweet from the beer, the butter added a creamy texture and a touch of salt. We all stood and ate from the massive pile of shells; shucking them into the woods and as it quickly lowered. Now, it was time for the Maine attraction: LOBSTER.
The proper way Maine-iacs test the lobster to see if it’s done, is by pulling out the antenna and bending it. If it snaps it’s done, if not try again in a minute. The steaming Scarlett shellfish was poured into a giant container and distributed to all the guest, whom were now considered friends. I was served two large beautiful lobsters with a dish of butter and a shell cracker. What more would I need. Justin beside me, now would guide me through the easiest way to eat a whole lobster. “Start with the claws”.