Maine's got more lobsters than you can shake a stick at. If you're lucky, by the time you've shaken that stick two or three times, with a hammer head stuck on the end of it, you'll have worked your way through as many boiled-red shells.
Back in high school, my friend Rob and I hitchhiked from Washington to Mount Desert Island, mostly for the view from atop Mount Cadillac. Back then, we couldn't afford to take advantage of the numerous shacks along every roadway with big white signs leaning against a wall reading "Fresh Caught Lobsters" in huge red letters.
But we could smell it for free. First the butter. Then the ocean-tinged steam. Finally, like scaffolding holding up the whole operation, the meaty crustaceans themselves. As we rode off the island in someone else's car, we longed to stop and gorge.
Two summers ago, I drove up. Rob and his wife Annie then lived in a rented house along the coast; we all had incomes, and we could finally stop at our choice rather than dream about aromas.
After touring the mountains in Acadia National Park, we drove off Mount Desert into Trenton and saw, in the same location -- to the left of the causeway -- a familiar establishment, the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound.
We stopped. We watched the greenish live lobsters battling in their salt-water tanks. We chose. We ate, and ate, and ate. It's hard for any of these roadside places (and Maine has many) to go wrong following such a simple recipe:
1 (or more) good-sized, fiesty lobster per diner.
Half a stick melted butter (heaven forbid margarine!) per lobster.
Potato salad in plastic container.
Case of beer.
Choose lobsters while they're still kicking. If the claws aren't wound with rubber bands, let the attendants pluck them out of the tanks. Into large basin of rapidly boiling water, drop lobsters. Ignore the scraping noises; they don't last very long anyway. Leave till cooked.
Remove bright red lobsters and arrange on offered paper plate.
Place melted butter, lobsters, potato salad and beer within convenient reach on laminated picnic bench table by the roadside.
Grasp wooden hammer and strike at strategic points on shell and then remove shell.
Scoop out pinkish meat, swish in melted butter. If your salivary glands haven't run dry, pop those pieces into your mouth. Do not miss any of this lobster's meat.
Repeat procedure till satisfied, or ill from an overdose of richness.
Hail to Maine and its mighty crustacean!