33rd Annual Morgner Family Lobster Bake

by elizestrydom


I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years but a sweet, tender lobster put an end to all of that.

As part of the Small Town Girl project, I stayed with a family in the coastal village of Damariscotta, Maine. It just so happened that my stay coincided with the 33rd Annual Morgner Family Lobster Bake.

On the day of the bake Allie, her father, brother and I woke early and went to pluck the lobsters from the water and transfer them to a couple of eskies. Back home, seaweed that we’d collected the day before was laid out over a low platform above a big campfire. Potatoes and onions wrapped in foil were placed on top then the lobsters were poured out of the eskies. Corn on the cob was arranged alongside the lobsters. Wooden boxes of muscles and clams and crates of eggs went on next. All of that was covered with another layer of seaweed and a canvas tarp went over the top of everything then a fire was lit underneath. Once the tarp was too hot to touch, I was told that the lobsters would need another 20 minutes. When the time was almost up an egg was removed and cracked open. It was done and that meant the lobsters were, too. The tarp was lifted off and the seaweed shovelled away to reveal bright orange lobsters. Men, women and children couldn’t grab their cardboard box lid trays fast enough. The food was piled on and the feast began. I was given just the smallest sample and had to really psych myself up to put the soft, white meat into my mouth (you can see that moment here). At first it felt all wrong but once I relaxed I realised I was actually enjoying what I was eating. So I had another bite…and another. And then there was no turning back.

It was such fun to be a part of this family’s long running tradition. Bill Morgner (dad) was so excited to include me in the process and explain how and why he did certain things. I find gatherings centred around food fascinating; there’s so much more to them than the actual meal. I’ve been such a strict vegetarian for the longest time but eating the lobster felt like a natural, respectful thing to do that day. I’m constantly observing and analysing and capturing life but sometimes it’s important to just be in it.