Captain Farris House

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The Art of Eating Lobster in the Rough on Cape Cod

bright red lobster on a plate with greens and lemon beside an ear of yellow corn on the cobEating lobster in the rough is a messy business, to be sure, but one that offers immense and immediate pleasure. For anyone new to this phenomena, a bit of advice is warranted. Though you may not find lobster on the menu at the Captain Farris House on Cape Cod, we know where you can find it and can offer some tips on how to eat it.

What do I mean by “in the rough” you ask? In general, eating in the rough means outdoors, at a picnic table, preferably at a lobster pound or seaside clam shack where you can enjoy the salt air, abundant sunshine, and spectacular views.

You need not lack for ambiance, however, when tackling a perfectly steamed crustacean. It is not unheard of to see diners at neighboring tables opening wicker picnic baskets and adding a touch of elegance to their outdoor dining experience. Out comes the tablecloth, chilled wine, champagne flutes, flowers, fresh fruit, a loaf of crusty bread, maybe even a candle. You see, eating lobster is almost a religion in New England.

However, achieving lobster domination is equivalent to earning a black belt in karate. It takes time to master. Now if you are not a purist, there are plenty of establishments that will do the preliminary work for you by serving the lobster with pre-cracked claws and slicing open the tail. Some will go so far as to remove the meat from the shell and serve it in a casserole with butter and breadcrumbs in a style we refer to as the “lazyman’s lobster”. And the ultimate presentation is baked lobster stuffed with scallops, shrimp, and other seafood. Truly decadent. But the authentic experience is a hands-on proposition. So, here for the uninitiated, is the best, and most efficient way to handle a whole steamed lobster.

How to Handle a Lobster
1. First, gather the appropriate equipment. You will need a heavy-duty nutcracker, a lobster pick, a rolling pin, a plastic bib (remember, I said messy), and lots and lots of wet naps.
2. Start with the tail. Grasp the body of the lobster with one hand and the tail with the other. Gently twist the tail until it separates from the body. Next, snap off the tail flippers (use your lobster pick to remove the sweet meat contained in each flipper). Then using a fork or your fingers, bend the tail slightly and firmly push the lobster tail meat out of its shell. A dark vein runs down the center of the tail. This should be removed before eating.
3. Tackle the claws next. Again, grasping the body with one hand, twist the claws away from the body so that they separate at the knuckle. Spread the pinchers of each claw open until they snap apart. Use a nutcracker to crack the shell and remove the meat with a lobster pick.
4. Break the legs off the lobster body. Use a rolling pin to push the meat out. Conversely, you can suck the meat out while gently squeezing the legs with your teeth.
5. If you have patience you can remove the shell from the body of the lobster and pick the meat from the knuckles. This is time consuming work, but well worth it.
6. You may encounter the greenish tomalley and coral roe inside the body of the lobster. The roe are the eggs of a female lobster, while the tomalley is the liver of the lobster and considered a delicacy by some.
7. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Dip chunks of freshly shucked lobster meat into warm, clarified butter. The agony is over, and the ecstasy can now begin.

A favorite lobster presentation in New England, however is the lobster roll. Chunks of lobster meat are dressed ever so lightly in mayonnaise and served in a hot dog bun that has been grilled with butter to a golden brown. A bit of finely chopped celery can be added, but nothing else. Nothing; no onion, garlic powder, or other unnecessary ingredients. And please don’t replace the bun with a sub roll, croissant, or other pretentious bread offering, or try to detract from the main ingredient with fluff like lettuce and tomato. In fact, the hot dog bun should be in the classic New England tradition, sliced open on top, not along the side.

We do not lack for great places to find lobster here on Cape Cod. From humble clam shacks to fine dining establishments, some iteration of lobster adorns the menu. But for a true “lobster in the rough” experience, these are our favorite places to go.

Now that you have the inside track on where to go and how to eat lobster, it’s time to start planning  your trip to Cape Cod to try your new skills. When it comes to great lodging options, the Captain Farris House in South Yarmouth offers luxurious accommodations, and a delicious homemade breakfast to start your day. Check our availability and book your stay today. We look forward to welcoming you.

Note from the Innkeeper: As a side note, my mom was a country girl from Jamaica, WI and she absolutely LOVED a whole lobster. I remember shipping her live lobsters for holidays, birthdays, etc. and her eyes would light up…the best present ever! I remember watching her get busy with the lobster and seeing that look of satisfaction with every bite!  Such great memories!!


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