Dante and the Lobster

by Amy Scattergood on September 17, 2009



Eating a perfectly cooked lobster, like this one here, beautifully prepared by chef David LeFevre of downtown’s seafood palace The Water Grill, (a wedge of lemon, drawn butter in a porcelain bowl like the hull of a docking ship) is a pleasure in its own right. Even more so when an impossibly polite server pins a square of immaculate white linen around one’s neck prior to eating. Which is just funny. Particularly since about 95% of the lobsters I’ve eaten were on the Maine coast, during or after college, where the bibs–if there were bibs–were crumpled plastic and possibly stolen from Red Lobster and mostly something we just laughed at and used to mop up spilled Molson and Moosehead. (Why are so many people–Woody Allen, Julie Powell–freaked out by cooking lobsters? I don’t know, but maybe it explains why so many people cook them so badly.)


Another pleasure of eating lobster is that it always reminds me of my very favorite Samuel Beckett story, Dante and the Lobster. In which Belacqua reads the Paradiso, makes a Gorgonzola sandwich (like shards of glass), considers capital punishment (foreshadowing), and brings a lobster home to his aunt. It is alive, of course. It will be a painless death, thinks a horrified Belacqua. “It is not.”


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