Thursday, April 20, 2006

The disconnect between the adventurous impulse and the foreseeable implications...(or why I should really think things through more)

P has the rather dubious honour of sharing his birthday with a salubrious collection of famous people from the past: Hitler, the former Emperor of Japan and Napoleon III.

Just when you’re starting to spot a theme however, you realise that on 20th April 19 a certain Benny Hill also made his debut into the world (one would hope the midwife took the opportunity to adminster a playful slap to the new-born’s baldy head).

‘Born-today’s’ for myself are rather thinner pickings, Her Maj Elizabeth II and Iggy Pop basically ( and before you ask, neither my given or in-family nickname* are actually as a result of this connection to these two parties, however coincidental that might seem).

Traditionally P and I have a joint birthday celebration, which this year is decided as being a meal out for P, S and myself at a restaurant of P’s choosing on the 20th.

Accordingly we head to Livebait for some quality seafood.

Now I had a fairly basic upbringing; on the culinary front pasta shapes, lentils, split peas and the like were art materials not food-stuffs, and accordingly I’ve never eaten lobster.

It feels like it’s one of those things you should do at least once though. So feeling adventurous, whilst S opts for Lemon Sole and P for Swordfish Satay, I decide to push the boat out and go for a lobster half.

It’s only when they bring across a bowl and ‘implements’ that I really think through this rash choice. How the f*** do you eat a lobster?

As the colour drains from my face as I realise the bind I’ve got myself into (this doesn’t feel like the sort of place you could ask for advice in), P&S start pissing themselves laughing. Oh Ha ha they say – Liz is having one of her blonde moments – can’t believe you ordered it without realising the implications etc etc.

S’s contribution was particularly memorable “well I did think it was a bit brave when you ordered it, but then I thought oh you’re a southerner, you probably know what to do with lobster”.

It’s the age old northern misconception, southern equals posh.

Let’s be clear, my parents grew up in the Eastend of London, the only fish they knew their way round particularly well was eel.

We rack our brains for someone we can ring who might possibly be able to give advice. We reflect that it says something about the circles we move in that we can’t think of a single party.

Still, how hard can it be right?

Well the answer is not very really. Cracking the claw with the nutcracker type thingy-me isn’t too bad (at least, my handling might not have been the most elegant but I did get it open ok and without hitting any neighbouring diners with flying shrapnel). Fishing the meat out of the opened claw with the pointy end of the other, letter opener type thingy-me is fine, and after some futile attempts at cutting the meat out of the main body in situ, I twig that the other end of the letter opener type thingy-me acts as a perfect scope and the whole mass of flesh comes away with one easy moment.

Now I have no idea if the above is the correct way of eating a lobster and if there are bits of the above you’re not supposed to eat, then I can say with reasonable certainty that they don’t seem to be life threateningly bad for you.

So on the whole I think I got through the whole experience reasonably well in the circumstances. Indeed, should I ever face the same situation again I would proceed with a small degree of confidence. Sadly however this new string to my bow, is unlikely to be of much value as the primary thing about lobsters that I discovered this evening was…I don’t overly like the taste.

Still you only live once.

And if you’re very lucky it doesn’t end with you being boiled in a pot.

* yeah right, like I'm going to tell you...

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