Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tarragon Lobster Salad (Page 157)

RECIPE #1253

  • Date: Sunday, January 9, 2011 -- 2pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I put off making the lobster recipes in The Book because I wasn't too excited about the boiling of live lobsters. Now that I have done it a few times though it has become old hat and I am making rapid progress through the lobster dishes. For this dish I boiled some live lobsters then removed the meat and cut it into pieces. I stirred together chopped shallots, lemon juice, and salt and let the mixture sit for a bit. Then I whisked in mayonnaise, tarragon, and pepper. I added the lobster meat and tossed. I served the salad on toasted hot dog buns. It was as easy as that! My reaction to this dish wasn't terribly negative but my special gentleman had some pretty nasty things to say about it. He exclaimed more than once: "Why would you ever do this to a beautiful lobster?" He isn't a huge mayonnaise fan and the idea of adding mayo to lobster really bothered him. Apparently he had never experienced a lobster roll before and the existence of the dish made him very angry. In the end he scooped his salad off the bun, put the salad in a sieve and rinsed it under running water until all he had left was the lobster meat. Then he ate the lobster dipped in melted butter. No, I am not kidding. I, on the other hand, have eaten lobster rolls before, and do not find them to be particularly offensive. This, I thought, was a perfectly reasonable lobster roll recipe. The balance of ingredients was fine. The salad wasn't drowned in too much mayonnaise and the tarragon gave it flavor without being overpowering. Are there better ways to eat lobster? Yeah, sure. But if you are craving a lobster roll, this version is not bad at all.

The recipe is here.

Only 40 recipes left to go!

Our Spring Break adventures took us back to Boston this year (amongst other places) as my special gentleman and I were both invited to give talks at MIT. I lived in the Boston area for five years when I was doing my PhD. I have many fond memories of my years living in Boston, and also some not-so-fond memories. On the fond memories side, my special gentleman and I met in Boston. I was in my last year of graduate school at MIT and he was in his first year of a post-doc there. We have a lot of Boston memories so it was nice to make this trip back there together.

We arrived in Boston on Sunday. Our whole vacation was full of meals with friends, which was fantastic, but on Sunday night we took the opportunity to have a special dinner, just the two of us, at a restaurant we went to very frequently during the first year of our relationship. It was special being back there. After dinner we walked by his old apartment, and the apartment I lived in when we met. It was a very nostalgic and sweet evening.

On Monday my special gentleman and I both gave talks at MIT. I go back to Boston pretty frequently -- indeed I was there this summer -- but it had been a while since I had been back at MIT while school was in session. My good friend Mike was also back in town. He and I went to graduate school together and to say that we spent a lot of time together would be an enormous understatement. Mike was very much a part of my MIT experience. On Monday he and I met for lunch, at one of the places we frequented as students. Eating burritos together and walking the halls with him felt just like old times, but so many things had changed. It was tremendously unsettling. It was weird to be there but not be a member of the department any more. It was strange to speak in front of a seminar that I attended every week for many years. It was bizarre to be standing at the chalkboard, looking out at the audience and thinking about all the times I sat in those same seats, and listened to someone give a talk on those same sliding boards. It was in that room that I once fainted during seminar, at a time when I was having some medical problems. It was in that room that Mike dropped his notes for his talk behind the sliding boards and couldn't reach to get them because his pants were baggy enough that they would have fallen off. It was in that room that a particularly famous speaker threw a piece of chalk at a very famous faculty member's head. It was in that room that I taught linear algebra recitations. It was in that room that a screeching squirrel slid down the window pane, having been forced out the window of the room above it. I also have dozens of mathematical memories of that room: things I learned there, pictures people drew on the board, concepts that I understood for the first time while sitting in the audience in that room... All of those thoughts went through my head as I was giving my talk. I have been in that room so many times, but this time it was incredibly different. So many of the people I associate with my years at MIT have since moved on: Mike, V, Chris, Lars, Vero, Andre, Tyler, Ricky, John, Matt, Michael, Angelica, Jenny, Nora, Peter, Francesca, etc... And new people have moved in. And while a few audience members were the same: Mark, Jacob, Big Mike, etc... mostly it was different. Of course our field is small so the new faces weren't unfamiliar. I knew almost everyone in the audience. But Kyle or David or Clark or Kirsten, they weren't part of my MIT experience and it was just weird to see them there. The whole thing was very unsettling.

My talk went perfectly fine, but right afterward, and still now, I had a terrible feeling about it. I can't explain why. It just felt so weird.

Even now, a few days removed from the experience of being back there, I am having a hard time sorting out how I felt about the trip. Did it make me miss MIT and the community of topologists there, or did it make me glad to have moved on to somewhere else? I am genuinely not sure. Maybe the real answer is, both. The visit reminded me of all the fantastic things about being at MIT and also all of the not-so-fantastic things about it. It was a weird and emotional few days in Boston. I am glad to be back home now.

More on the rest of our trip another time...


Anonymous said...

It is possible that the terrible feeling you got owes itself to the fact that, because of The Gourmet Project and your online blog, your audience knows a lot more about you than you know about them. You're kind of celebrity. But because you didn't realize this at the time, something didn't sit right afterward, so your reaction was perfectly natural. But relax, it's all good, your audience enjoys the blog very much! But you may have to get used to being a minor sort of celebrity!

Teena said...

Hahaha... I don't really think of myself as a celebrity! That's an interesting idea though about what might have given me that bad feeling.

Rachel said...

You forgot the hang-out-with-your-favorite-person-in-Cambridge part! Miss you already.

Teena said...

... AND I got to hang out with my favorite person in Cambridge!! :)