August 24 marked San Francisco’s first annual Lobsterfest. It was a classic New England clambake with 20 pounds of lobsters, clams, mussels, corn, chorizo, potatoes and a small crowd of delightful people. After much consideration, I agreed to forgo the process of digging a pit, setting a fire, heating rocks, gathering seaweed, arranging layers of food items and then waiting five hours. While I favor authenticity, Lobsterfest took place in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is a national park and not a place for big, fiery holes.

Everyone always asks whether a lobster screams when it dies. Sure, it’s hard to throw a living thing into boiling water. I do my best to keep the suffering brief. Anyway, lobsters don’t scream, because they don’t have lungs. They have air pockets though that expand and contract with a change in temperature, and those can make a whistling sound. Also, there’s no need to worry about destroying a deeply committed relationship. Contrary to sitcom wisdom, lobsters don’t mate for life. Males have pointy pleopods (the first set of appendages behind the tail (useful for injecting)), while females have soft, brushy ones (good for fanning eggs). Whoever’s got the biggest gets first crack at injecting sperm into a female and then sealing up the hole. You know what they say about males with big, pointy pleopods…

They have narrow tails. My mother employs this more innocent method of sexing lobsters, whereas my lobster skill-set is limited to devouring a two-pounder in under five minutes.


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