Roll-Ing through the end of summah

First published in the Tri-Town Transcript Aug 27, 2015 

Psst, it’s still summer. Maybe by mere days, possibly minutes, but those back to school catalogs are still better used as kindling in a beach bonfire. I refuse to be smothered in plaid and pre-sharpened #2 pencils until the last possible second.

Since it’s still summer, I want to talk about God’s food group. Obviously I mean the lobster roll. Lobstaaah.I realize that you can eat lobster year-round, but waterfront restaurants and chilled seafood are less appealing when you can’t actually be outside. By the water. Because it’s buried under 100 inches of snow. Summer is when lobster fulfills its culinary destiny.

There’s no doubt about where the best lobster roll is — the billboards don’t lie. OK, well maybe they lie, but in this case they’re for real. The Beach Plum in North Hampton, New Hampshire, wins hands down.
If you can eat their foot-long lobster roll all by yourself then we should meet — I want to learn your secret ways. I can get close, but I can’t actually finish the footer. It’s one of my life’s greater disappointments, but I press on.

But, in case we can’t all zip up the coast on a whim to wallow in lobster, let’s thank our lucky North Shore stars that there are so many other fabulous options. We enjoy Michael’s in Newburyport for a well appointed roll, as well as the surprisingly gigantic, and always reliable, roll at Kelly’s Roast Beef in Peabody. Kelly’s is nice because, should you find your spirits sagging from one too many mall parking lots full of crazy moms doing back to school shopping (ahem!) you can whisk over and temporarily pretend you are at the beach. Kelly’s amazing fish tank counts as “waterfront” in my book.

Obviously the various fish markets are great, and the local seafood restaurants are as well. Try me — I have an opinion on all of them.

But, my dear Regular Readers, I would be remiss if I did not sample the one lobster roll that I know you all wonder about. The one you think, “Surely I won’t try it, but perhaps our local columnist will??”

I know. Those golden arches beckon with a deal too good to pass up. A lobster roll for $7.99? What do I have to lose? (My very lobster soul perhaps, but let’s not bog down.)

I knew that eating lobster at McDonald’s would horrify many. Especially my good friend who is just a bit more focused on the source of her food that I am — in the way that some people who breathe are focused on air.

Her children never eat at McDonald’s. My children…well. I mean those arches are big and golden and always there when you need them on a road trip. There isn’t really a Batman signal we can flash in our times of need, but many a near-family-implosion in the Giant Sparkle have been saved by the familiar, yellow, neon curves on the side of the highway. I’m not saying we eat there a lot. I’m just saying… we’re familiar with McDonald’s.

So for eight bucks and only 290 calories, I found myself holding a whole wheat bun with a leafy green swath of lettuce and a scoop of what was quite obviously lobster. It was good — not heavy on the mayo, no crazy McSauce. It was just lobster. On a roll. I had no complaints.

I texted my friend. “I can’t admit what I’m doing right now. I value our friendship and this might break you.” This obviously led to a frenzy of back and forth messages and my eventual admission, via a photo, of the cold, red, truth. There I was, happy, healthy, and eating lobster at McDonald’s.

She responded, “Our family drove by McDonald’s just the other day and wondered what kind of person would ever order lobster there!? Now we know.”
I’m that person.
But it was for you, Regular Reader, for research and for… summer in America! And look, I’ve lived to eat lobster another day. Another summaah day.