I’d been eyeing the lobster for weeks.
We have a great fish… counter at our local grocery store. Lots of fresh fish to choose from, plus a nice selection of shrimp and oysters, if that’s your thing. Plus? Fresh crab claws and lobster meat.
Lobster meat. Picked clean from its host. No messy shells or crustacean murder to deal with.
Of course, $28.99 a pound is not really in my budget.
But man. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
My mom, you should know, makes this really good corn chowder. Peruvian corn chowder, I think she calls it. Spicy and corn-y and potato-y and delicious. She used to make it with little shrimps, but one time, the shrimps were too salty and ruined the chowder, so that was that: no more shrimp.
I have made the corn chowder – shrimpless – for various lunches and dinners on multiple occasions. Well, a variation on my mom’s corn chowder – I like it REALLY potato-y, so I add a lot of potatoes.
Just the other day, I got this idea into my head that I would make a monster batch of corn chowder to take for lunch. Soup is so easy to do for lunch at work – there are TWO microwaves in the cafeteria and it’s neat and simple to eat in front of my computer (I know – I am a loser) and easy to clean up and not particularly smelly. Plus, once the initial cooking is over, it’s very simple to prepare each day.
So I bought the potatoes and the corn and the milk and all the other ingredients (onions, mainly – it’s not a complicated soup).
And then I thought, what if I added some lobster? Wouldn’t that just be… wonderful?
I wouldn’t need much. I could cut it up into small bits and it would be this tiny extravagance that would make the corn chowder that much more enjoyable.
So I bought two ounces of lobster.
I felt silly asking for such a paltry amount, I don’t mind telling you. But the fish… counter person (she’s not really a monger, per se) didn’t bat an eye and served up two ounces in a little plastic container and that was that.
It worked out to about $5-something and it was the smallest little bit of lobster you’ve ever seen. But still! Beautiful, fresh lobster!
I made a gigantic vat of corn chowder: A whole Spanish onion. A leek, for good measure. A little garlic. Two bags of frozen corn. Eight potatoes.
I used my immersion blender to blend half of the potatoes and corn, to make the base of the chowder nice and smooth. The rest of the potatoes and corn made it delicious and lumpy. There is nothing better than the little pop a whole corn kernel makes in a mouthful of creamy chowder.
Then I poured in the milk, to add an extra layer of creaminess.
As I adjusted the spice levels – salt, pepper, cayenne – I indulged in several spoonsful. I couldn’t wait for lunch the next day, when I could enjoy an entire bowl.
Then, perfectly seasoned… perfectly blended between creamy and chunky…
It was time for the lobster.
I chopped the plump pink claw meat into little morsels – not small enough to disappear into the background, not so big as to be wasteful.
As I scooped the lobster into the pot, I thought about snatching out a piece and eating it right there. But I resisted. It was such a small amount, after all.
I let the chowder cook a while longer, stirring the red splashes of lobster into its soft yellow depths.
Once the lobster was fully incorporated, I pulled out storage containers galore. I’d learned my lesson from past soup batches: make sure to freeze some right away, or it will languish in the fridge and go bad before you can eat it all.
I estimated I’d have at least two weeks’ worth of chowder to eat.
I put the very last container into the fridge. There were a few tablespoons of soup left in the pot. Including a bit of lobster.
I got out my spoon for a taste.
It was horrible.
The lobster… There was something off about it. It tasted like soap.
And it had infused everything it touched with the same soapy bitterness.
The entire pot had been sullied beyond repair.
(Lest you calmly suggest, a la my husband, that perhaps the soup failed because I didn’t follow a recipe for lobster chowder… Well. It was a chowder I’d made a dozen times before. I just tossed in some lobster. Wouldn’t that… make it better, not worse? Why should the addition of a little lobster require a whole separate recipe?)
It took me a few days to dump out the refrigerated failed soup.
I couldn’t bring myself to even taste it again – the memory of the soap taste had imprinted itself so indelibly on my senses.
I only just got rid of the frozen chowder this weekend – there must have been a quart of it.
It sat in a cold rectangular block in the sink. As the hot water ran over it, the milk and the pureed vegetables melted away, revealing sweet rounds of corn, slim squares of potato.
A few pink blooms of lobster.
So much soup. So many lunches. So much careful chopping and delicate seasoning. So much perfectly good food! And that soap-tasting, $5 lobster.
Down the drain.
I mourned that chowder, as it swirled away.
It kills me, Internet, to waste all that money, that food.
And that lobster! That beautiful, ruinous lobster!