I’ve always loved crustaceans. I had a short period in my (teen) life when I declined eating it at Chinese restaurant dinner tables because I was too lazy to get down and dirty and pick the crab meat out of the shells I’d have to crack. But other than that, I love the sweet, juicy, fleshy meat of crabs and lobsters, and I feel sorry for people who cannot appreciate how good they are.
The way I have appreciated crustaceans has evolved. I grew up eating crab and lobster the Chinese way, which means either battered in salt and pepper or ginger and scallion and stir-fried. When I got older, and especially after I moved to the East Coast, I started appreciating Maine lobster, simply steamed, cracked, and dipped in some butter. I love lobster rolls Connecticut-style, meaning tossed in butter rather than mayonnaise (Maine-style) and served in a fluffy, toasted bun. I also realized how delicious Maryland blue crabs were after spending a Thanksgiving in Ocean City, Maine, and being completely spoiled with the easily and readily available, fresh, and cheap little crabs of the region.
So it’s been disappointing to me while living in New York when people get excited about Luke’s Lobster, one of the original chains that serves Maine lobster and semi-local crab rolls. The rolls are teeny tiny, even for me. A few bites, and your $16 crab roll and $19 lobster roll are finito. The lobster is mostly claw meat as opposed to tail meat (and we all know the lobster tail meat is really where it’s at). The crab meat is much sweeter than the lobster meat, and as someone who has a deeper love for crab meat, I get it. But then why pay more for the lobster roll, then? After a few years of avoiding it, I decided to use my lunch credit today to get a crab roll, and when I went to pick it up, I was immediately saddened looking down at my bag. The roll was in a skinny container the size of a hot dog bun. That’s all $15 on crab gets you here in New York.
This is another reason to travel — to get better and cheaper access to all the foods you love and can appreciate in different setting.