In the middle of hamstring curls, I told my trainer I killed a lobster today. Then her eyes started to bulge out of her head.
“Your face is so funny when you say things like that,” Kyla says. “It’s like you do it in a nonchalant way, but your eyes light up.”
Creepy, I know. But I’m not some sort of psycho serial killer that gets a kick out of tearing a lobster’s body from its torso (yes, that’s how we had to do it—rather than dropping it in boiling water). I actually picked up my lobster, ready to kill it, but then I looked into its beady eyes and had a moment. I put him back down and decided to clean the already dead and frozen lobsters first.
The ticking clock in the kitchen is always on the back of my mind, and I knew I just had to get it over with. One hand on the tail, one on the head, I twisted its body like wringing a washcloth, all the while apologizing. Gulp.
The rest of the dressing process was easy probably because I eat lobster all the time. My boyfriend, Joe, likes to equate the experience to that classic scene from Splash where Daryl Hannah sinks her teeth into a whole lobster—shell and everything. (Fast forward to about 5 minutes into the clip below.)
“Were people horrified?” was Joe’s first question when I told him it was lobster day. Smartass. (Though he’s 100 percent correct.)
At least my skills are transferable. I knew exactly how to pull the tamale, the liver or that green stuff under the trunk, since it’s my favorite part to eat, and I’m used to whacking claws to fish for the treasured meat.
With our maimed lobsters, we made Sauce Americaine, which starts out as an aromatic lobster stock that’s then blended (shells and all thanks to the same-size-as-me VitaPrep blender the school has). The cool slash scary part of making this dish is that you get to flambé the shells with brandy. When Chef demoed, it hardly ignited. He joked that the brandy didn’t have enough alcohol. When my partner Andrea and I reenacted his demonstration, we almost singed our eyebrows off. Note to self: Flambéing isn’t child’s play. Do NOT lean over the stove when lighting your soup on fire.
To complete shellfish day, a French school has to include the famous escargot, or snails. Chef became a giddy school boy when he thinks back to his days as a young Frenchman scaling the countryside with his father for snails. He’s the type of professor who sets the scene with hand movements like acting out rain or describing the way a fish swims. He told us the best time to forage for snails was after a rainstorm.
But this isn’t the countryside of France, and I was horrified when chef whipped out a mega-sized can of escargot. I’m not a fan of these chewy creatures, and resurrecting them from an aluminum can scared me even more. But they were particularly tender and delicious thanks to us drowning them in a compound butter of shallots, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. Not bad for a free lunch. Have I mentioned I’m getting fat?
TIP OF THE DAY: Before killing lobsters, stick them in the freezer to anesthetize them. The chill will numb their nerves.