BY JOHN SUTTON
Prince Edward Island is famous the world over for its Lobster. A rather curious looking crustacean, the Atlantic Lobster is found throughout the Island coastline. Each spring hundreds of fishermen take to the waters, armed with baited traps used to harvest their quarry from the ocean depths. Once caught the Lobster is taken inshore where it is dispensed to processing plants to be packaged or it is taken to live Lobster pounds where it is placed in holding tanks where Lobster lovers can buy it live to take home and cook themselves. Either way, Lobster is an incredible delicacy and comprises the main course of a meal that is, quite simply, fit for a king or queen.
Lobster on P.E.I. were once so plentiful that they could be caught by hand during low-tide. Bringing a Lobster sandwich to work or school was a sign of that families poverty as the meat was often the only type that impoverished families could afford. As well, Lobster was once used to fertilize Island fields. My, how times have changed!
Over the course of time Lobster has, like so many other marine species found throughout Island waters, become quite scarce. This scarcity, coupled with the fact that Lobster is now considered a delicacy throughout the world, make the species a high-demand entree on restaurant menus. So high is the demand for Lobster that it now commands the highest prices of any Atlantic seafood on the market in both Canada and the United States. Thousands of visitors to P.E.I. flock to the many traditional church-style Lobster suppers for a taste of this delectable species. However, the best way to enjoy a "feed" of Lobster is to buy it live from one of the many Lobster pounds found throughout the Island.
When buying live Lobster one should make sure that the chosen specimen squirms vigorously when removed from the tank, flapping their tails and moving their banded (for your safety) claws. A "limp" Lobster, which shows no signs of vitality or movement, may die before you get to cook it. In these cases the meat of the Lobster may be mushy and bad tasting. As Lobster is rather expensive one wants to be sure to get the best quality specimens on which to dine. Also, it is said that female Lobsters have more meat than males as they are a bit broader at the top of the tail-known as "the hips"- than males. Females are sometimes full of coral or roe. These are the red (reddish black when raw) egg sacs that make for delicious eating. The tail contains the most meat, while many Lobster lovers insist that the claws contain the firmest and best tasting meat. Steaming or boiling the Lobsters in salt water is the most common and easiest method of cooking (doneness is judged most easily by time, about 10 minutes per pound). Extracting the meat from the shell can be a rather tedious process and one must be sure to come to the table equipped with a nutcracker to crack the shell and a skewer to dig the meat out. Patience, along with the proper tools, are all one needs to enjoy the most delectable seafood that the Island has to offer. Enjoy!