Cooking School Journal: Third Section: Advanced Preparations II

Third Section: Advanced Preparations II

I was so eager… I actually made it to school early.

Chef had not yet arrived.

It gave us all a chance to talk. The giggling gaggle was around me.

“Jules you should have been here last Monday!” Alice said.

I told them I was in Chico.

“Jules, she went on and on about how your hors d’oeuvres were the best.” Alice said. “She was impressed with your gumption to e-mail that chef for the date thing, and the truffle oil. She kept saying that your stuff was really elegant.”

I was hanging on to every word.

I learned that NGL got a lashing, and across the board she was pretty disappointed in everyone else’s stuff. She liked the home-schoolers pumpernickel/trout concoction. She apparently liked Alice’s mini-Maryland crab cakes which were really good. Chef overall was generally disappointed.


I was dying to hear more about how great I am, but it was time to start class. Lobster time!

Layla the Verbally Abusive TA began the lecture. She prefaced it by sharing that she is actually deathly allergic to shellfish. She keeps an Epi-pen in her purse because she could go into anaphylactic shock just by touching a piece of shellfish.

My wheels began turning…  Nope, too easy.

And then I wondered, why the hell is she here? Are those rubber gloves really going to save her?

I listened intently anyway. I wanted this lecture to move along as quickly as possible so that we could throw those puppies in the boiling water and have a feast!

Lobster Time!

Lobster Time!

It sure made me miss our “lobster fests” in Mill Valley. Jonah and Sara would join Joe and me for Maine lobsters that we would order on line from Webvan (I LOVED Webvan). A simple gallon of melted butter and 400 bottles of wine later and we were beaming for weeks.

I can’t forget my vacations on Cape Cod where my mother-in-law would treat the whole family to a lobster feast pulled fresh from the water with steamers (and for some weird reason baked ziti. We’re not even Italian.) We’d sit around the picnic tables and eat every last bite, laughing and joking. Those were such great times.

I will never forget sitting on the beach in Wellfleet watching the kids play at the water’s edge while chomping down on a fresh lobster roll I purchased at the shack a few feet away. Heaven!

Lobster roll. Best sandwich ever!

Lobster roll. Best sandwich ever!

Layla began her lecture:

The most prized lobsters in the world is the American Lobster. It  lives off  the  Atlantic coast between North Carolina and Newfoundland. Most are fished from the waters off of New England…blah blah blah. Even Michelin three- stars in Europe buy their lobsters from the lowly American fisherman… blah blah blah.

Finally, in the world of food we have something exclusive. Our wines often sit in the shadow of their French counterparts. Bread? Nope. Coffee? Not so much.Cheese? Are you kidding me?

BUT! Have they tried the Six Dollar Western Bacon Cheeseburger at Carl’s Junior? No? C’est Bon!

They are convinced that Americains suck, but apparently our lobster is amazing. Wicked cool!

Layla continued: The lobster has a large flexible tail, two claws and four pairs of legs.  The meat from the claws, tail and legs is eaten.  The roe is the unfertilized eggs of the female. Lobster eggs were once considered a delicacy, like caviar. The roe is also called “coral” because of its bright red color. The tomalley or lobster paste is the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of lobsters, that functions as both the liver and the pancreas. It is also eaten.

The lobster is classified by weight: the chick is the smallest at 1 lb. Although many consider the chick to be sweetest, the optimum size to serve is the jumbo which is between 2-3 lbs.– any larger and the meat becomes somewhat tough.

You can tell a girl from a boy by the swimmerets. They are pairs of tiny fuzzy legs under the tail. The first pair of swimmerets on a male lobster are hard, whereas on a female lobster, they are soft and feathery.

Blah, blah, blah.

Layla finally stopped talking.

Just then Chef blew in as if on queue.

Oh crap!  Not another lecture. But, no, she was too preoccupied and told us to begin killing the lobsters.

Layla dumped eight lobsters on the counter. Their claws were bound with rubber bands, but they were flipping and squirming and trying to get away. Oh poor things. I wanted to put them in the boiling water as quickly as possible to end their horrific anticipation.

But, suddenly I noticed that there were no lobster pots simmering anywhere in the kitchen. Just two glass bowls, a 9″ Chef’s knife and 8 lobsters were presented.

I quickly became concerned.