The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 06.01.04


Lobster: the red-shelled treat

What has two claws and a tail and costs as much as a bottle of good red wine? A lobster, of course.

It is the season of this spiny crustacean and Quebec grocers have them on display everywhere. As I pass by numerous salt-water tanks in each store, I can't help wonder how the critters feel as they clamber over each other, packed in until the tanks risk overflowing. It's no treat being a lobster, says I.

Trapped in cool waters as they roam in search of food, they are sorted by size and placed in large holding pools while they await their destiny. Land, sea, or air-travel arrangements are made with each lobster holding a ticket to a southern destination.

However, this is no ticket to paradise, but an all-inclusive package with grocery store aquarium stopovers along the way. Little do they know they will be staring out onto gleaming aisles and watching tourists pass by en route to the bakery section.

Buying a live lobster is akin to adopting a pet at the local shelter, in my experience. One ogles the assortment of available critters and chooses carefully. There is no familiar mewing or whimpering from pups or kittens and forlorn looks. However, if lobsters could talk they'd say 'take me, take me, I'm good for the pot and I desperately want out of here.'

Better to die by the pot than to spend another night in cramped quarters next to a pile of lemons and seafood seasoning.

I've got nothing against the practice of eating lobster and I quite enjoy them. I also appreciate the economic importance of the lobster fishing industry. It's just that in a sort of Nemo-esque way, I am increasingly sympathetic to aquarium-bound creatures. Thank you, Disney, you've ruined my lunch.

Seriously, lobster is great tasting, good for you and on occasion worthy of plunking down a weeks pay for a feast. If you can't travel to the Gaspé or the Magdalen Islands then you can have a mini-vacation here at home.

The following recipe provides an end to the trip and the road for both shrimp and lobster. You'll be glad you did your part in providing an escape from the tank. They weren't heading home anyway.

Spicy shrimp and lobster linguine

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or two teaspoons dried
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 lobster tail (about 1/2 pound)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3/4 pound dried linguine
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Heat oil in very large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add onions and garlic. Sauté 10 minutes until golden. Add tomatoes, wine, oregano, crushed pepper, salt, sugar and ground pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes until flavours are blended and sauce is slightly thickened. Meanwhile, remove meat from lobster tail and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. (To pry meat out, cut away soft undercover with scissors and ease away meat from shell with your fingers.)

Add lobster and shrimp to sauce and simmer, uncovered, five minutes until just opaque. Meanwhile, cook linguine according to package directions; drain and place in a large serving bowl.

Toss at once with sauce and sprinkle with parsley. Serves six.