Today has been a day that my stomach will not soon forget. It was the epic gastronomic adventure known as the Gillis family Lobster-fest, or Lobstermania as I’ve decided to call it.
My dad, being of East Coast stock, was essentially raised on seafood. Of course, this means that I too was raised on seafood, and that is truly an awesome thing. I’m pretty sure that the minute I started eating solid food I was sampling seafood. Scallops, mussels, clams, oysters, crab, lobster, snails; you name it, I’ve probably tried it as a child. And I’ve loved all of it. I can’t recall ever having sampled something from under the sea that I didn’t enjoy.
Anyway, as I was saying, seafood has always been a part of my life and diet. Because of this, I think that I have probably taken its staple-like presence in my personal food pyramid for granted. Despite the gastronomic experiences that shaped my young reality, I understand that it’s not common for an 8-year-old to know how
- to put a lobster to sleep1,
- to prepare a lobster dinner,
- to separate a lobster from its shell, and most importantly
- to know how good they taste.
Furthermore, I was acutely aware at a young age that the best way to serve lobster was not on some fancy-pants platter with fine crystal and cutlery. Fine clothing should also be avoided. Lobster is nothing if it isn’t messy; a true lobster feast requires bibs or old clothing, and in the perfect world, a beach, a bonfire, corn-on-the-cob, inexpensive but tasty wine, and cold beer. Clearly I have my dad to thank for this knowledge.
To prep for Lobstermania, my dad ordered 36 lbs of fresh live lobster flown in direct from Hall’s Harbour, Nova Scotia. Or perhaps Heaven. Either way, their arrival was met with smiles, lip-smacking, and much hooting and hollering. Okay, they were met with smiles and lip-smacking. I don’t hoot. I’ve been known to w00t, but not hoot. I digress.
Before the feast, and while my dad was busying himself in the kitchen, I enjoyed some tasty beer2, coffee, and date squares (not necessarily in that order or combination). I also spent the afternoon chatting with my aunt & uncle, my cousin and his son (who shares my birthday – go August 15 birthday babies), my nieces, my brothers, and my sister-in-law. It’s not often that all of us are in the same room together, so it’s always nice to catch up. Especially if that catching-up is done at the kitchen table where food is always plentiful.
While sitting patiently for dinner, I caught up with my nephew. So freaking cute! He was born late last year, is still pretty thin on top, and big for his age. But he’s cute and quiet, so I approve. At some point in the eve, Aidan decided that his hair would make a great wig for Ethan. Personally, I think it gives Ethan a bit of a hockey haircut look. I’m not quite sure that this would be the look that he’d want to go with, assuming he could verbalize such things. Since he can’t, we opted to obtain photographic evidence of his new hairdo; you know, so that he could say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ at some later point. It has nothing to do with recording embarrassing moments to say, release to his future prom date. Regardless, he was hilarious and stylish (at least on some level) – clearly a Gillis man.
Dinner was epic. Beyond the 36 lbs of aforementioned lobster, there was a huge serving of paella (home-made by my dad, and stuffed full of tiger shrimp and chicken), mussels, wine, wine, and more wine. And did I mention the wine? What more could I ask for? Nothing really. But the food kept coming. Following the feast there was coffee, fruit fondue3, more wine, and date squares. Apparently my mom had also whipped up a home-made lemon pie, but by the time that was suggested, everyone was just too full.
Overall the feast was a huge success. Everyone was sated and then some, and both Aidan and I departed with leftovers to keep us fat and happy for at least a week. Most of all, it was just amazing to have everyone together.
Of course since it happens so rarely, we decided that our goal would have to be, and should be to have some sort of epic meal like this on a semi-regular basis. Granted, with everyone’s crazy schedule that becomes harder to put into practice than to actually say or write. But of course we’ll try to do it. And for the most part, we’ll succeed. We are Gillis’ afterall. Clearly that means we are awesome. And awesome has a way of accomplishing things that seem impossible.
Now I’m heading to bed. Full, oh so full, and very, very happy. Happy Lobstermania all y’all.
1 You stand them on their head (as my niece Madison is demonstrating in the picture below). I love the fact that my nieces have been introduced to lobster at such a young age. Clearly the traditional love of seafood will carry on in with their generation.
2 In this case, some Railway City Brewing Co. Sham-bock . According to the website: A celebration of a Spring German Doppelbock style beer brewed featuring local Maple Syrup. According to me: Delicious.
3 I was offered a 70% dark chocolate fondue (with cherry goo and hot peppers), plus fruit. So tasty. So tasty long time. Based on Madison’s face, I’d say she agrees.
stole borrowed the title for this post from the song Les Poisson from The Little Mermaid. Every time I hear this song I smile.
Les poisson, les poissons,
how I love les poissons,
love to chop, and to serve, little fish.
FIrst I cut off their heads,
then I pull out their bones.
Ah mais oui, ca c’est toujours delish.
Les poissons, les poissons,
Hee hee hee, hah hah hah.
With the cleaver I hack them in two.
I pull out what’s inside.
and I serve it up fried.
God, I love little fishes, don’t you?
Here’s something for tempting the palate.
Prepared in the classic technique.
First you pound the fish flat with a mallet.
Then you slash through the skin,
give the belly a slice,
then you rub some salt in,
’cause that makes it taste nice.
Sacre bleu! What is this?
How on earth could I miss
Such a sweet little succulent crab.
Quel dommage, what a loss.
Here we go, in the sauce.
Now some flour, I think, just a dab.
Now I stuff you with bread.
It don’t hurt, ’cause you’re dead.
And you’re certainly lucky you are.
‘Cause it’s gonna be hot
in my big silver pot.
Toodle loo, mon poisson, au revoir!
Les Poissons, The Little Mermaid