One night I was dining out with my husband, sipping on a Sancerre and enjoying some lobster cakes, when the mind began to wander. In this case, about lobsters in pop culture.
I don’t know why it happened, but I blame the French wine. I must add, I’m no wine snob. I like when someone can recommend a good pairing, and the owner of French Gourmet in Ferndale, Mich., has never steered me wrong.
Normally I’m the type to pick up a fruity, pop wine like Riunite’s Lambrusco for at-home tippling, but the good wine and the good food produced some ruminations, including that of lobsters in TV, film and otherwise.
Considering the lobster, I couldn’t help but think of the David Foster Wallace “Consider the Lobster” essay, which he wrote for Gourmet magazine in 2004. Here he covers the Maine Lobster Festival, and it’s hardly an oohing and ahh-ing account of indulging in lobster dripping in butter. It’s more a philosophical piece, taking off the rose-colored glasses and instead looking at a luxury food that generally is eaten after being boiled alive. (How’s that as food for thought?)
(There’s also a book of the same name, with several other essays on varied topics, from book reviews to politics.)
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I also couldn’t help but think of “Strangers with Candy,” that bizarre, warped cult show where Amy Sedaris’ Jerri Blank returns to high school after years as a prostitute and junkie. In one episode, “Who Wants Cake?”, she has a lobster named Clawson (of course). Clawson met an uphappy fate but he (or she? I really don’t know) involving a pot of boiling water, but the clawed critter lives on in comedy heaven.
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Another lobster reference is “The Simpsons” where Marge accidentally gets breast implants, titled “Large Marge.” Her suddenly ample rack stirs up mayhem to no end and everyone can’t help but stare: Even the lobsters in the water tank at the Italian eatery the family dines at can’t help but ogle Mrs. Simpson.
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On a more cultured note, there is always a journey to literature: Think Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which features the Lobster-Quadrille:
“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle — will you come and join the dance?
Good, absurd fun. As is Alice’s entire adventure down the rabbit hole.
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One other high-brow reference is Howard Nemerov’s poem, “The Lobster.” Basically it’s from the perspective of a lobster in a supermarket’s glass water tank:
Meanwhile, the beauty of strangeness marks
The creatures, who move (when they do)
With a slow, vague wavering of claws,
The somnambulist’s effortless clambering
As he crawls over the shell of a dream
(Hungry for more? Read the whole poem here.)
There’s a surreal beauty to the piece, and I love its slow pace of contemplation.
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And to round it all out, so to speak, let’s go to LL Cool J’s “Big Ole Butt.” It’s a crass yet fun song about LL’s love of ladies with ample backsides, including hitting on Lisa the Red Lobster waitress:
I went to Red Lobster for shrimp and steak
… And shrimp and steak wasn’t the only thing cookin’
I sat down to eat, ordered my food
I said to the waitress, “I don’t men to be rude
But I’ll take you on a platter.”
(For the video and the rest of LL’s exploits in pursuit of big ole butts, watch the video here.)