Where Crustacean Is King
For centuries considered food for the poor (its looks couldn’t have helped much), the lobster is now unanimously considered the food of the gods, which would make Maine a veritable lobster Valhalla. Its claim to fame, the Homarus americanus, is generally considered the finest-eating crustacean in the sea, so sweet and succulent that one could almost dispense with the obligatory melted butter.
Maine and lobster are all but synonymous (for a while the state even used the lobster on its license plates), and with good reason: The average annual catch along the state’s indented coastline generally exceeds 36 million pounds – more than half the national total. Rockland, on Penobscot Bay, is the capital of the lobster universe, hosting an annual Lobster Festival that for more than fifty years has offered days full of live music, seafood-cooking and lobster-eating contests, the coronation of a Sea Goddess, and enough Americana to last till the following year at least.
Even if you’re not in-state for the festivities, heavenly lobster dinners can be had almost any time at any of a thousand shacks, huts, pounds, and farms found scattered among Maine’s coastal towns – it seems like every town that can float a fishing boat has one.
Simple preparations are the best and most Yankee way to go – steamed or boiled, though the lobster roll (usually served on a hot dog bun with chunks of meat right from the shell) is a favorite and much less laborious and sloppy alternative. As for where to dine, you can’t beat dockside, amid the perfume of the salt air, the sound of the ocean, and the screech of seagulls nose-diving for your unattended french fries.