Live Seafood at Our Doorstep - Part 4

June 2009

The phone rang shrillly. It was the building's internal phone network. What would a neighbor of mine want?

"Yes?" I asked, hesitantly.

An unrecognizable neighbor whispered raggedly into the receiver, "There will be a knock at your door in fifteen minutes. Have cash in hand."

The line went dead.

"Oh.... kay..."

Not sure what to expect, I figured I'd play it safe. I grabbed a wad of bills out of the freezer and stuffed them under my baseball cap.

Right on time, there was a furtive knock at the door. I opened the door a sliver, to gauge my visitor.

"Hi, I'm Carlos. I hear that you want lobster."

"Yes, I do," I replied, swinging the door wide open.

The short, smallish-framed gentleman's shoulders arced downward, from the heft of his cargo.

"This should be good," I said to myself.

I peered into one of the bags, full of flipping and writhing goodness. "Enormous. And alive," I whispered, reverently.

Must... mask... my excitement.

I lowered my eyelids, raised my eyebrows, and asked with feigned insouciance, gesturing with my chin toward the freakishly gargantuan lobsters, "How much, for your tiny little lobsters?"

He smiled, noting a column of drool, exiting the corner of my mouth, "How many do you want?"


Carlos nodded, and said, "Ok, that'll be $6.75USD a piece."

I didn't even bother to bargain.

I went to Baixa do Sapateiro to purchase a huge cauldron (called caldeirao).

Threw the live lobsters into a rolling boil of salted water.

Waited until they turned red.

Made a butter out of sliced shallots, sliced garlic, salt, pepper, and mit-mit'a (Ethiopian spice blend), and melted it all together until the shallots and garlic caramelized.

Slit the tails along the dorsal and ventral surfaces. Drizzled the butter on the tails, and scooped out the golden-brown deliciousness from the carapace.

So... full...