Lobsters were once a common food

Culture : The lobster's smile

Nothing beats the lobster. It is the crowning glory of culinary creation. And the very word with the dark vowel - and the bright red association - sounds like a pleasant seduction, sounds a bit more elegant with the French "homard", while the Anglo-Saxon "lobster" "Sounds like a crunchy, pleasurable lure. Oysters are also delicious for lovers, but they are a quicker, more fleeting pleasure, not an everyday occurrence, but you count them by the dozen, yes, Mr. Casanova ate them fifty at a time. There is still caviar In the competition for exquisite seafood. Of course, it is expensive. Too expensive for those who still count the gray-black grains or at least the gram. The Caspian Sea is ecologically contaminated and the sturgeon case is a tragedy for fishermen and traders, while the end consumer there is almost always something of the nouveau riche, snobbish parvenue - the cabaret artist Lore Lorentz has been based in Düsseldorf since the times of the West German economic boom the demand for targeted roe release raised: "Caviar for the people, so that the mob slip!" One would no longer formulate it so drastically.

For us voluptuous, the second or third most beautiful thing in the world, ahead of all common geese, lambs, salmon and cattle, remains the incomparable lobster. Nothing decorates a festive table more beautifully than that primeval armored and at the same time ten-footed graceful crustacean whose shell some aesthetes still rub with olive oil However, the scissor-wielding journeyman naturally has one shortcoming: The lobster is by no means born as red-light as artists painted it from an early age and consumers take it for granted the aquariums of central European department store food departments watch over and over again how not only children there are amazed at the blue-black, sometimes green-brown marbling of lobsters and lobsters: as if it were just a camouflage or deceptive color.

The lobster's second mistake: it is a living being, and in order to become red and dead and good, it must be turned upside down shortly before eating - and that means for the animal, which is equipped with two highly sensitive spherical eyes: with sight, it must be plunged into a pot of boiling water For at least a long minute, better two. (We are silent about the vivisection that French cooks recommend and that German animal protection prohibits.

Anyone who does not only dine in restaurants and knows that lobsters that have been freshly boiled, have not been put on ice for hours or even deep-frozen retain their slightly nutty aroma and wonderfully juicy melt, will encounter a taboo in their own kitchen: hunters and anglers kill The slaughter of domestic animals is largely banned from our urban civilization, there is no longer any live poultry to be bought in German markets, and there are hardly any Christmas or New Year's carp swimming at home in the bathtub before meals The killing of fish and vertebrates is delegated; death, except as an accident, is no longer part of life.

Often enough, what remains is only the tragic comedy. Woody Allen, the urban neurotic with the wriggling lobster in front of the stove in hand, has danced to us what it means in terms of amazement and circumstances when certain foods are not already in the form of cutlets and schnitzel or in this one If I remember correctly, Woody was not born a kitchen killer, and Diane Keaton had to take matters into her own hands. Samuel Beckett's very first hero, by the way, felt the same way: his 1932 published story "Dante and the Hummer".

As in other early texts, Beckett disguises himself as a young man named Belacqua. Originally the name of a somewhat lazy fellow from the infernal circles of Dante's "Divine Comedy". Belacqua, who slept through the purgatory. At Beckett he learned Italian of his hoped-for lover, but after a course in Dante he buys the lobster for his aunt, in whose kitchen he is frightened: The animal in the wrapping paper is not dead yet. You can't cook it alive! This scene borders on the absurd, until the resolutely sensible woman reaches for the lobster and the lid of the bubbly pot. Belacqua thinks, well, it's a quick death. "God help us all." In response to this pious wish, young Beckett lets a last paragraph follow; it consists of only one sentence, three words: "It is not."

Not a quick death? The pathos, the seriousness of this finale (a sarcastic, ironic story) has it all: I love lobsters, the living and the done, but in between there is always an execution.

A lobster is precious, but no longer expensive. Today imports from overseas, especially from Canada, take care of that. There are probably around 30,000 types of crayfish in the world's waters. But the finest, the lobsters of the Mediterranean (that is, to put it simply : Lobsters without claws, instead with extra-long head antennae), the continental European crayfish and the once legendary Heligoland lobsters with their British or Breton conspecifics, they have become expensive rarities. Just imagine: The best, small, lobster-like crayfish were in the 19th century Century so numerous that it was mainly used to fob servants - until it was forbidden in Berlin, for example, to treat servants excessively with crab meat. It was not until 1876 that a fungal pathogen, the "crab plague", put an end to such gluttony.

Lobsters and lobsters live in deep, cold waters. Since ancient times they have been caught in woven baskets with small crustaceans as bait. Marcus Gavius ​​Apicius, at the beginning of our era probably a Roman Siebeck, praised the lobsters and lobsters as the earliest author of cooking recipes, together with the lobsters and lobsters Flamingo tongues and barbel livers in such tones that, according to Seneca, young people preferred to hurry to the culinary pots rather than to the (disgusted) philosophers. The old waters, however, have largely been fished empty; Especially in the Aegean Sea, the deep sea robbery with dynamite has destroyed innumerable lobster banks. Only a tenth of the 50,000 tons of Atlantic lobster annually is caught or bred in Europe today. Ninety percent come from the North American east coast. The famous Maine lobster, its fairytale distribution Reminiscent of the Beelitz asparagus by comparison, it is rarely served outside of the USA. Instead, the Jumbos, filled with huge lobster tanks, fly to Europe all year round from Canada; And at a kilo price of 40 to 50 marks, a medium-sized lobster weighing six to seven hundred grams has now become an affordable delicacy. Halved is enough as a starter for two, but if you serve guests and yourself a whole lobster as a main course, you will be surprised again and again how full it is, because the lobster is: a protein bomb, so it needs an extra dry sparkling wine, or better still champagne, or a white wine with strong acidity as a companion.

Three or four pieces of advice: let your lobster get its last breath between buying and cooking, store it airy, not in plastic and not (as cookbooks recommend) in the refrigerator. save yourself the trouble of lobster armoricaine, Newburg or thermidor. A fresh lobster never tastes better than "steamed", that is: after the act of killing it is cooked in simmering water, where you can count on the lukewarm lobster meat for a good ten minutes for a pound after releasing the tail and scissors, just drizzle lemon and hot, lightly salted butter. Mix the roe and egg white corail, which is usually left out in restaurants, as well as the greenish liver to a complementary sauce; Except for the shells and the stomach pouch placed behind the eyes, the whole lobster is edible, and we owe our sacrifice the respect for its innards as well.

If a lobster at the dealer is still in good shape and you hold it up by the trunk, then it stretches and hits its tail and claws like a giant dragonfly. Was it the wonderfully sinister draftsman Sempé? At least once I saw the picture of a grinning, smiling lobster. He smiled and flew out of the saucepan past the perplexed chef. Homard qui rit. The laughing lobster, a miracle. But wonder lobster, it really does exist. Drive You only go to Montauk. This is the place known to many readers of Max Frisch from the story of the same name at the end of Long Island, east of New York. There you will find no trace of the poet and his lover Ingeborg Bachmann. But shortly before the United States in end on a ledge girded by rusty barbed wire (a protection from conquerors who disdain the nearby beach?), you will find many boats of hobby shark hunters adorned with baring teeth as well as a mixture of fish market and harbor tavern, where Bob.Bob watches over in a mighty stone basin is a lobster more than a meter long, a phenomenon. And how old? The fishermen of Montauk say he is around a hundred, which is contrary to all life expectancy. Nevertheless, wide-awake crab eyes look at us, from the 19th century, and he will be one of the few prisoners of his kind to survive this New Year with a smile, because an antique is cooking It is not him.

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