Crustacean consternation

This week we have a tale about a lobster (or two) and how not to sell them to mid-westerners. Or anybody for that matter.

Many years ago I worked at a country resort on the north shore. We got a lot of visitors from Canada and the US who had never eaten lobster before (unless it was out of a can), so coming to the Island and looking over the bay where lobster were landed and dining on the freshest possible seafood was a real treat.

One evening I had a lovely table of three from Missouri: a mum, a dad, and their 12-year-old daughter. The girl was a huge Anne fan and all three came to the resort restaurant for a lobster dinner.

The evening was going great; they were having a wonderful time with appetizers of grilled oysters and seafood chowder. The mum was worried that she wouldn’t know how to eat the lobster, but I assured her that the beast came split so there would be no fighting with the shell.

There were oohs and aahs when the lobsters came. Three plates, steamed, split, grilled, and dressed with a little tarragon vermouth sauce.

Everything was going well when I did my first table check. They were loving it. In heaven. Particularly the mum.
I refreshed their drinks and carried on.

When I went back to see how they were doing about 15 minutes later, the mum, who had finished one half of her lobster said she had a question.

“What did you stuff the lobster with? It’s so good.”

“I don’t believe we stuff it with anything. Do you mean the tarragon sauce?”

“No, no, I mean this green filling here,” she said pointing to the middle of the uneaten half. “This creamy green stuff.”

“Oh,” I said, thinking nothing of it, after all, how would these folks from the middle of America know all the ins and outs of shellfish? “That’s what we call tomalley. It’s the liver and pancreas.”

The mum’s eyes went wide and she looked at me in horror. She used her fork to push the plate away from her.

“Oh, my god! I’m so sorry, I’ve ruined your dinner,” I said. “Let me take that away and I will get you something else on the house.”

She declined the offer politely. “I knew I shouldn’t have asked,” she said. “I should never ask.”

I went to clear the plate, but her husband stopped me and used his fork to pull it closer to him.

The rest of their meal went fine; they even had dessert and coffee. The mum laughed at her own reaction. I took her lobster off the bill and it was all good.

The next night I had another table of diners who were from Saskatchewan. Fairly young people, six of them, having a great night, lots of pre-dinner drinks and all very excited to be trying lobster for the first time.

Half way through their meal one of the women flagged me down. She said, “What have you stuffed the lobster with? It’s delicious. Is it pesto? Seaweed?”

Without hesitation I said, “Yes, it’s seaweed.”

We are hoping you can be a part of this series by submitting firsthand experiences of imperious bosses, difficult guests, and your own and others’ gaffes. If you wish to remain anonyomous or use a ‘nom de plume’, we can do that. Please send stories to or private message on social media.Thanks to everyone for their submissions! I haven’t used them all but keep ‘em coming!

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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