Lizzy and Larry Lobster’s Yuletide Jacuzzi.


Lobsters (Photo credit: Foomandoonian)

Christmas is at our place this year, and MM’s age-old fear has resurfaced… Cooking For The French. My stomach is turning somersaults at the idea of cooking for my in-laws (or “the Outlaws”, as I fondly call them).  Don’t get me wrong: they are adorable with me, and reassure me that my food is wonderful -(in other words, edible-) every time I cook for them.

The problem is mine, and mine only – my gastronomic inferiority complex sticks to me like Spotted Dick and custard to last night’s dishes. Just the thought of getting it wrong paralyses me. Wondeure Woomane, my nemesis, manages to simultaneousy slip into something feminine, clean the house and set a table with matching napkins, individual name settings and decorations made by Tibetan monks. She somehow manages to control events in the kitchen (presumably via thought transmission to the cooker) whilst she perches delicately on the sofa with her glass of Crémant, beaming like the Bell Rock lighthouse as she modestly accepts praise for her Christmas tree, then discusses poverty and hunger in the third world in hushed tones as her foie gras and smoked salmon chill in the fridge.

I, on the other hand, am wild-eyed and dishevelled as my guests arrive, having stuck my finger through my tights, my dress covered with smelly dog’s hair, and gravy stains on my top. Later, as my guests await the starter in the living room, I can be found entrenched in the kitchen, glugging down a large glass of white wine as I stare dismally at a main dish that has either done a Phoenix on me or is so undercooked that it could make a break for freedom off the plate.

Despite my doubtful track record in the festive gastronomy stakes, I pulled out my 1940’s cookery book this week – the cookery bible that PF’s great-aunt Renée gave me many years ago. I treasure it. As I turned the pages, the memories of her and the “oldies” inevitably tumbled out, and a lump big enough to remind me of my run-ins with bechamel sauce formed in my throat. Then I remembered PF’s granny’s comment at our wedding, and toughened up. “Make sure you feed my grandson properly,” she had whispered in my ear as she meaningfully pressed a cookery book into my hands. Welcome to the family, kiddo.

I was looking for a fish recipe to please PF, who had been gnawing on his favourite festive bone of contention: seafood. MM doesn’t cook seafood, and he knows it – it’s the Holy Grail of Gallic gastronomy, and as such, is unattainable for our family table. So like any self-respecting (-albeit big-) kid, PF demands it every year. This is how I found myself reading page 262 of Renée’s recipe book and wondering if I’d picked up a guide for budding torture fanatics by mistake. I gawped in horror at the recipe: “Take six small, live lobsters. Cut them energetically into slices (not too thick) and throw them into a pan containing boiling butter and oil”.

Now let’s get this straight. I’m no Brigitte Bardot as far as food is concerned. Living in France has knocked all cute bunny sentiment out of me, and I have absolutely no issues with eating Bambi, Thumper or the handsome Prince (-before his transformation, obviously-) with whatever sauce and sides are on the menu. I can munch snails, look on as the butcher decapitates pheasants, and even gobble baby boars marinated in wine with as much enthusiastic grunting as Obelix. But the idea of sawing Lizzie and Larry Lobster into bite-sized chunks and chucking them into boiling oil makes me feel like a seafood fiend. Halibut Hindley – the domestic equivalent of Hannibal the Cannibal.

Later, at the fish stand, I stared at the semi-comatose lobsters stranded on a bed of ice. As they semaphored SOS messages at me with their frozen little antennae and legs and blew bubbles of distress, all I could think of was this:

A French housewife pointed at Larry and Lizzie the lobsters on the fishmonger’s display, had them sealed in a plastic bag sarcophage then drove them home for their sad demise, no doubt orchestrated with the help of a woman’s weekly magazine recipe page and an axe. MM turned her back on the sorry scene and went home.

I  trawled the net in search of humane lobster sacrifice technique. Top French chefs on Youtube recommended throwing the live lobster into a vat of boiling water and cooking it alive. The image of Larry and Lizzie swirling in a boiling jacuzzi decided me: there would be no live lobsters coming here for Christmas.

So MM has copped out and bought two packets of frozen lobster tails. Call me yellow-bellied if you wish, but life’s hard enough without having a torture session on my conscience too.

Now let’s get that recipe sorted. I wish you all a calm, relaxing and fulfilling Christmas with those you love. And when you tuck into your turkey tomorrow, spare a thought for Lizzie and Larry…

63 thoughts on “Lizzy and Larry Lobster’s Yuletide Jacuzzi.

  1. It will be fine stop worrying, mind you maybe you should stash some frozen pizza in the freezer just in case ;),

    Have a Great Christmas from
    PN, Mrs Sensible, Scooby and the incredible fat dog

  2. we take it in turns to host the extended family for xmas dinner each year

    one of the rare advantages of being a vegetarian is no-one expects wants me to take a turn doing the dinner 😆


  3. Well thanks a bunch MM. You have forever ruined shrimp cocktail for me. What a cute clip. I obviously need to start watching kids’ films. And be truthful (I won’t tell), did you sabotage that car to give yourself some breathing room? I hope you have a wonderful holiday and that Father Christmas can find you and yours in that foreign country!

    • Shark Tale is excellent – I’m a kiddy film fan, and it’s one of my favourites.
      I was happy to get some breathing room, but I would have preferred to get it in a different way… happily, they’re nearly here now. Have a cool yule, my dear 🙂

      • And a cool yule to you too. I’m about to put some Christmas carols on. Just can’t get in the mood in Florida surrounded by palm trees and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. But it’s pretty! And we have plenty of wine and good food. 😆

      • Similar dilemma in the South of France – listening to “let it snow” with autumn wind billowing round the house. Family all in bed after festive meal – just me, smally dog, Murphy the cat and a glss of wine contemplating the wood fire. Merry crimbo, WWN xx

  4. He he haaaa!
    I think I had better write a blog post abut what it is like trying to cook for The Godmother. She goes through the kitchen bin before eating, to check the origin of all ingredients. This is why I may be the only housewife in the world whose bathroom bin emits a fishy pong and overflows with ketchup bottles and ready made sauce packets.
    Have a great Christmas, and spare a thought for me; I will be witness my husband paralysing a live octopus by biting the base of its main tentacle (did you even know they have a dominant tentacle? Like we are right or left handed, out of 8 tentacles one is the leader) then draining the ink out of it, boiling it alive and serving it with pasta.
    Yes, I will be having damn pasta for Christmas dinner.
    Merry Xmas to you and all your readers, and may the God of lobsters bless you MM!

    • Crikey, that sounds scary… you cover up your traces well, although I’d love to know how you explain the fishy smells in the bathroom 😀 Oh, boy. A man wrestling octopi sounds fabulous – dress him as a gladiator and put on the music to “The Full Monty,” and I’ll buy a ticket. Hell, I’ll even eat pasta for the privilege 🙂 I have just survived the scallop test, tomorrow it’s lobster time!

  5. To kill a lobster…go for the head where there is a cross between the up and down line and the first line across. Insert screwdriver…hit the handle of said with a hammer in a firm manner…and then prepare and cook your freshly deaded lobster.

    Whatever you do avoid preparing lampreys….reading the instructions you would think they had been written by the Spanish Inquisition on the treatment of heretics.

    • Helen, you’re a star! We should do a rerun of that 1980’s cookery programme, you can be Maïté and I’ll be her sidekick. I’m curious to know where you learned your lobster-killing technique… I will copy it dwon and keep it with my hammer and screwdriver. Gastronomic DIY 🙂

    • To you too, Duncan! Some of our pressies were labelled PF, MM, Bigfoot, Little My and Rugby Boy… the blog has obviously had an impact on family life 🙂 For the moment, we are all appropriately bushed after the late French festivities last night. Larry and Lizzie will be sorted for this evening. Now it’s time for soup!

  6. first time i cooked lobster, I couldn’t come around to just keep the live thing in my fridge. the bag moved, you understand??? IT MOVED! So, I decided to live it in my sink. In some water, so he could swim and be merry. Of course I had forgotten that they need salted water, not tap water, to live. After 3 hours, he was dead. I understood my mistake at the moment. stupid me. Oh well, i was busy being the perfect french housewife/hostess, I can’t think of everything. I don’t know if this death was more painful for him than the death by jacuzzi, but it certainly was easier on me than the hissy sound they’re supposed to make, out of pain, as they plunge into the deadly jacuzzi. Maybe a tip for you next year?

    • I am sooo happy that there are French houswives who don’t have the heart to kill them either. Poor little things. Although they tasted jolly good when swimming in a pool of mango and coriander coulis.

      • that’s the only reason why I haven’t become vegetarian yet. I’m trying hard to go into vegetarian delicatesse…but it doesn’t even come close to a daube or to a ragout, or to a poule au pot.

  7. Merry Christmas to you and family MM!
    I love that little shrimp scene. Kiddo decided she was a vegetarian at age six, so we’ve had similar dinner time conversations between her and mad carnivore Smilin’ Vic.
    I’m a fan of kiddie movies too, and after I’d prepped tonight’s festive fare, we all snuggled up on the couch and watched Despicable Me 2.
    Sounds like you’ve got the holiday meal under control.
    Great call on the frozen lobster tail!
    Joyeux Noël!

  8. Yay! I didn’t realize there were so many other people like me who were rather squeamish about cooking live seafood. Haven’t done it, can’t do it, won’t do it. Whenever I’m faced with something I can’t do, I keep telling husband that I’m a ‘fragile flower’. He doesn’t buy it … but after 30 years of marriage, seafood still hasn’t come out of my kitchen. Kudos to you for facing the terror with a Plan B!!

  9. My son once told me he read an article which said frozen Lobsters can still live once thawed?!! Not sure if that’s true or not. Lol But I’m with you, I would have been very squeamish cooking the lobsters, whether alive or frozen!
    Your dinner sounds delicious, though! Hope all turned out merry! Happy Holidays! xx

    • Once they’re dead, they can’t come back (except maybe in Lobster Zombie films) 🙂 Mine didn’t run off the plate, anyway. It was scrummy delish – I could hardly fit my head back out of the door after the Gallic standing ovation to my culinary prowess 😀 Have a lovely Christmas, sweetie xoxo

  10. Okay, I am just insanely impressed at the cooking you just mentioned! It all sounds so exotic and romantic it makes me actually WANT to cook (which is generally a non-event in my life). I can’t imagine having to cook lobster though… I did the mere act of shredding chicken for the boyfriend’s birthday dinner and it made me feel ill. Haha I hope it all went well with The Outlaws!

  11. I’m another who can’t cook and won’t even eat seafood because of the killing problem, though I’m not a vegetarian. Your frozen lobster tails were the perfect compromise and I’m glad your cooking was so well-received. 🙂

    • You won’t eat it? A few years of living in France full-time and you’ll get over it 🙂 I’m still very proud of myself – I got so many compliments, can’t fit my head through the kitchen door 😀

  12. Back as I am from a BT-induced phone/internet-free Christmas week chez me mum, I am glad to read that your lobster was a roaring success and you are dripping in kudos. 🙂 I’m glad to read that the frozen tails were good. I bought some many years ago and found them to be tasteless and watery. They had been on special offer…

    I have never bought fresh lobster but always squirm a little when I pour a bowl of mussels into a steaming pot. Doesn’t stop me eating them though. 🙂

    • Lucky you, getting home for Crimbo. I hope you ate a slice (read “pound”) of cheddar for me. THe frozen tails turned out to be “langouste” – they were very tasty (or seemed so in my soused state). I’ll be working on my sissy attitude in 2014, watch this space 🙂

      • Yep, I ate a good dose of Cheddar and Stilton (and brought some back) and crackers.

        We almost didn’t make it home. Eurostar wanted to chuck us off at Calais cos they thought we were illegal immigrants (!). You couldn’t make it up.

      • Home to England. I tell the exciting tale of how I was nearly thrown off a Eurostar train for being an illegal immigrant, or not, didn’t matter… on my blog this afternoon. 🙂

  13. Lobster for Xmas? You’re more French than me. Here is my trick: lots if drinks & nibbles before going to the table. The guests are slightly drunk and will eat anything. And I stick to turkey too. After all, it is Christmas for you too, and you need to enjoy it, right?

    • MuMu, you’re a star 😀 I sussed out that wondeure woomane secret a couple of years back – stuffed them all full of apéro so they only wanted small portions of first course. I will be going for turkey next time, but this year PF was pining sooooo much for seafood that I thought I’d mess it up once and for all. But as I made the mistake of getting it right, I may have condemned myself to lobsterland for ever…

  14. I am sure it all went well. Ahhh the English, no eating bunnies, no eating horses, no eating veal ’cause it’s got pretty eyes looking at you…. this is a lobster delightful read!

    • Cheers, AOC 🙂 I’m not a good person to ask to make dinner in the UK now – the meat is so rare it could run away, and it’s genreally something that someone will have ethical issues with (foie gras, rabbit, veal, baby boars…)

  15. I was married to a classically trained French Chef for 20 years and when I met him I was terrified needlessly as I discovered eventually. How did it all turn out? Did you slip into the stilettos before you served.? Thats how I picture you, glamourous and composed!

    • Married to a chef, ooooh boy. The only thing PF cooks up is pasta and eggs.
      Now as for the stilettos: I have a few pairs, none of which I wear because my feet can’t take it. I put them on, hang on to the bannisters to get downstairs without breaking my neck, show everyone, then take them off and put on my canadian sheepskin slippers. Not so sexy with a black dress but at least I don’t end up in hospital.

      • Yes the last couple of years I try but I am not quite as springy : )

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