We noticed a new food stand in Freeport (that would be Maine) this year, advertising “wicked lobster rolls” for the bargain price of $19.
What! At the most recent price here in lobster country, you could buy three whole live lobsters and cook them yourself. Which is precisely what we do. We boil them in a big pot on a propane burner, usually using the local salt water right out of Casco bay, plus any seaweed we can find floating around. The following morning, our friend Shelley makes a point of cracking open any uneaten lobsters plus all the carcasses she has saved from the night before and salvaging all of the meat for her famous lobster rolls.
Now the secret can be revealed. The only trick to making an authentic Maine lobster roll is carefully picking all of the lobster meat. Shelley insists that very little else be done to the lobster after that, save the addition of just enough mayonnaise to bind the lobster bits together and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Anything else is an aberration in our world.
But you are not done yet. Shelley is quite particular as well about how the roll is to be served. A true lobster roll calls for a top-cut bun, something we have only found here in Maine. Whereas a common hot dog bun is browned all the way around and is shaped like a submarine, a “top-cut bun” looks like it has been sliced from the top of an old-fashioned loaf of bread. It is only browned a narrow width on either side of the slit. The sides look like bread, and these Shelley browns in butter in a hot skillet before filling the bun with the prepared lobster. On the side, at all costs, you must add Cape Cod potato chips. Serve with the beverage of your choice. But I happen to think that this meal calls for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, which Shelley’s brother Peter is only to happy to provide.
As you can see from the photo, Shelley’s lobster roll, made with love by hand using minimal ingredients, is the essence of seafood perfection, reflecting generations of Maine tradition. We are happy now to be part of this proud tradition. I will even put my strict low-carb diet aside to indulge in Shelley’s lobster rolls.
A couple of days later, Shelley showed us another Maine tradition, the tuna roll. As you can see, this is simply a poor man’s version of the classic lobster roll. However, in addition to the mayo, salt and pepper, she also adds diced onion to the tuna. I really think a light, well-chilled white wine is called for, in this case a delicious Chenin blanc. And of course you must eat it on the deck of your cottage, overlooking the sailboats moored in Casco Bay.
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