2003 Festival highlights: concerts by Lee Ann Womack and Orleans, annual Maine Sea Goddess beauty pageant, Saturday’s big parade, Sunday’s William G. Atwood Memorial Crate Race, annual Amateur Cooking Competition, carnival rides and midway attractions and food booths, and the MLF’s Main Eating Tent, where something over 25,000 pounds of fresh-caught Maine lobster is consumed after preparation in the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker near the grounds’ north entrance. Also available are lobster rolls, lobster turnovers, lobster sauté, Down East lobster salad, lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, and deep-fried lobster dumplings. Lobster Thermidor is obtainable at a sit-down restaurant called The Black Pearl on Harbor Park’s northwest wharf. A large all-pine booth sponsored by the Maine Lobster Promotion Council has free pamphlets with recipes, eating tips, and Lobster Fun Facts. The winner of Friday’s Amateur Cooking Competition prepares Saffron Lobster Ramekins, the recipe for which is available for public downloading at www.mainelobsterfestival.com. There are lobster T-shirts and lobster bobblehead dolls and inflatable lobster pool toys and clamp-on lobster hats with big scarlet claws that wobble on springs.I'm doing a lobster theme today, following the pattern of previous theme days on this blog, which is to work a theme only after I've perceived an accidental theme present in the first 2 or more posts.
Putting "lobster" through a Google news search just now, I see that "Lobster fest starts today in Rockland." An odd coincidence:
Lobster lovers and others come from all over the U.S. and other countries to the volunteer-run festival, which [the prez of the festival] estimated generates as much as $2 million annually for the area economy.That's from today's news article. The quote that starts this post is from a much darker account of the festival, David Foster Wallace's 2004 essay "Consider the Lobster." Wallace has a lot to say about the World’s Greatest Lobster Cooker:
“It’s gained so much national and international recognition,” she said.
She said many of this year’s showcase activities — such as the crowning of the Sea Goddess from a court culled from local girls — are tried-and-true crowd pleasers which have been around for decades. Others, such as Sunday’s “Real Maine Man” pageant, are relatively new.
Last year, organizers had a “Real Maine Man” cooking contest, but they’ve upped the ante this summer. Cash prizes totaling $225 will be awarded to those who can prove their Mainely manliness after competing in categories such as Best Real Maine Man Outfit, Talent, and Feats of Strength and Endurance....
There also will be a parade, an art show, Navy ship tours, and a lobster crate race, among many other activities planned over the five-day festival.
But the star of the show, Kolmosky emphasized, is everyone’s favorite sea creature.
“I think the highlight of the festival is the delectable Maine lobster,” she said.
One must-see is what organizers proudly refer to as the “World’s Greatest Lobster Cooker,” a behemoth that can cook 1,600 pounds of lobsters every 15 minutes at its peak capacity.
“It’s a show in itself,” Kolmosky said.
So then here is a question that’s all but unavoidable at the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, and may arise in kitchens across the U.S.: Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? A related set of concerns: Is the previous question irksomely PC or sentimental? What does “all right” even mean in this context? Is it all just a matter of individual choice?...He's just getting rolling at that point... just getting roiling. It's a festival of agonizing over there at the link.
[T]he whole animal-cruelty-and-eating issue is not just complex, it’s also uncomfortable. It is, at any rate, uncomfortable for me, and for just about everyone I know who enjoys a variety of foods and yet does not want to see herself as cruel or unfeeling. As far as I can tell, my own main way of dealing with this conflict has been to avoid thinking about the whole unpleasant thing. I should add that it appears to me unlikely that many readers of [G]ourmet wish to think hard about it, either, or to be queried about the morality of their eating habits in the pages of a culinary monthly. Since, however, the assigned subject of this article is what it was like to attend the 2003 MLF, and thus to spend several days in the midst of a great mass of Americans all eating lobster, and thus to be more or less impelled to think hard about lobster and the experience of buying and eating lobster, it turns out that there is no honest way to avoid certain moral questions.
There are several reasons for this. For one thing, it’s not just that lobsters get boiled alive, it’s that you do it yourself—or at least it’s done specifically for you, on-site. As mentioned, the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, which is highlighted as an attraction in the Festival’s program, is right out there on the MLF’s north grounds for everyone to see. Try to imagine a Nebraska Beef Festival at which part of the festivities is watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there on the World’s Largest Killing Floor or something—there’s no way.