C and I are liberally sipping on our rum-drenched Catastrophic Category 5 Hurricanes and listening to the band play beautiful jazz blues when the server plops down a large metal bowl on the table and dramatically announces ‘Seafood bucket with the Lobstahhhhhh.’ We are in New Orleans for the weekend and after eating enough gumbo, jambalaya, Cajun fries and beignets, are in the mood for something crustaceous. We head straight down to the Mississippi River bank and bag a table overlooking the mighty river at Poppy’s Crazy Lobster bar. We don’t go through the extensive menu; we just want the famous Bounty of the Sea bucket. And now here it is.
The fiery red crustacean on top with its enormous claws, coiled tentacles and beady eyes is intimidating. I peek around the lobster and see couple of snow crab clusters, plenty of shrimp, mussels and clams, and a dozen bright red craw-fish peering back at me. Boiled red potatoes and steamed corn cobs are wedged between the seafood. I turn my attention back to the lobster. I am no stranger to eating seafood and lobster ranks highly on my list with scallops and shrimp. I love lobster bisque and ravioli; I am a fan of lobster salads and love the ice-cold and buttery hot lobster rolls equally. If lobsters were as cheap as chickens I would eat one every week. I have eaten whole peeled lobster tails served on pastas, had staring matches with the lobsters in my grocery store tank but it is my first time eating a whole hard-shelled lobster resting on a tower of seafood.
I tentatively poke the 2 lb monster with a fork. It doesn’t budge which emboldens me further. I look down at my plate. Staring down at the lobster cracker, seafood fork and bib I feel like a lobster surgeon. Do I touch it with my hands, I wonder? Is that the right etiquette? I glance around at surrounding tables. Almost every other table has ordered the lobster. C and I observe them and brainstorm our strategy for the lobster as we guzzle our drinks and eat the other tame crustaceans. Soon we have finished half of the other seafood and I can’t put it off any longer. I turn my attention back to the lobster.
I grasp it firmly by the claws and twist each claw off, drawing from my experience of dealing with crabs. That was the easy part; C and I now have a big claw each on our plates and there is no turning back. I grasp the lobster cracker with a fake air of expertise and purposefully crack the claw. The forkful of meat that I pull out and dip in the butter is shredded but delicious. We apply ourselves to the lobster with renewed vigor. Broken shards of the shell go flying around as I attack my lobster. I soon master the technique of cracking the shell strategically and happily pull out my first intact piece of claw meat. I jubilantly shout ‘eureka’ and wave the claw about for anyone who cares to look. Drops of butter fall on my bib but I don’t care; I sorely lack the finesse of eating a lobster but I don’t care. The playful and upbeat jazz notes resonate with me; the screeching seagulls are in natural harmony with the Natchez steam boat’s loud horn and the sluggishly flowing river; the giant morsels of the lobster’s tail meat exquisitely dipped in warm butter are little pieces of heaven melting in my mouth. I don’t have a care in the world.
5 years later I’m again at Poppy’s Crazy Lobster in New Orleans drinking their famous Voodoo juice and once again the server yells ‘Lobstahhh’. This time I have ordered just the lobster, shrimp and snow crab. We are a party of 4 adults and 2 toddlers; our table overlooks the river, ships, and sea gulls and keeps the kids completely entertained. I once again tackle the lobster with complete abandon. C eats it with much more finesse, keeping the shell quite intact as he pulls out the meat expertly. (Maybe he has been secretly eating lobsters; I need to keep an eye on him.) S wants to play with the lobster claw and head after C is done with it; he ‘walks’ the lobster across the table and has a gala time as he dines on seafood, potatoes and corn.
Point of the story?
A) Even toddlers love lobsters.
B) Life and food doesn’t stop after having kids.
C) S was smiling at the servers, nodding and head banging to jazz music and ate lots of lobster, shrimp, crab or ‘fishie’ as he calls it. He even borrowed my lobster fork and ate his own potatoes. He is a total foodie and delight to travel with and I can’t help bragging about it. ♥
I visited Poppy’s Crazy Lobster restaurant in New Orleans in May 2012 and then again in March 2017.