While visiting Maine, what first comes to mind? Then what’s the next question of your host? “Where can we get the best lobster and blueberry pie?” Welcome to summertime in Maine.
Let’s take a journey to the past and explore the culinary history of the lobster and the Maine blueberry.
“The Lobster is the most moral creature in the universe, though he doesn’t know it. He is also probably the best-tasting. He knows that very well, and that is why he makes it so hard for you to get him up off the deep ocean floor and out of his armored shell.” Robert P. Tristram Coffin, Maine native, poet, essayist, lecturer and professor. 1892-1955
His writings of Maine farm and seafaring lifestyle are classic. Reading Coffin’s poetic words brings to light what life was like in Maine in simpler and hardier times.
Of his many books, Mainstays of Maine (published 1945) is a favorite, all about food, but not a cook book. The pages are filled with colorful recollections of family recipes, gatherings around food laden tables and folklore.
“…there is a lot in the weather and scenery of Maine, and the feel and look of the land and water.” Coffin
And what does the land and water produce in Maine? Lobsters and blueberries. Those culinary mainstays of Maine.
Here is Coffin’s recipe for Maine lobster.
Steam them on a fast fire for only 10 minutes. (Couldn’t get much simpler than that!)
In addition Coffin points out; “…you need only your two hands for shelling. And hunger!”
There is a messy etiquette to shelling, but once learned, it comes naturally. And it’s all worth the effort. Don’t wear your best attire. Those little plastic bibs or, better yet, large kitchen towels covering your front are a must.
As a side, maybe some local corn, drawn butter and a roll of paper towels. Followed by dessert, any sort containing Maine blueberries.
“Put them and their colorful vigors into muffins or pies. Or have you ever tried them in a plain vanilla cake? They are something to make the heart flutter there. And, of course, a blueberry pie, if the crust is flaky as ribbon candy, is one of this world’s best things, eaten hot right out of the oven, with the berries all singing still at full cry. A blueberry needs heat to bring out its best points.” Coffin
It is not just about the food to complete a culinary experience, but the times and places where they happen. One special place is Monhegan Island. An island 12 mile off the coast of Maine.
“Among the most iconic sites on the entire coast, Monhegan is famous for its small, close-knit fishing industry and its reputation as a seasonal and year-round home to artists for more than four centuries.” Town of Monhegan Website
In addition, “The island is surrounded with the Monhegan Lobster Conservation Zone, an area where only Monhegan fishermen can set traps, that was granted to the island by the state legislature. The legislature also granted Monhegan’s fishing fleet a special winter lobstering season in the 1930s.” Island Institute
The island innkeepers live the Monhegan lifestyle and provide the island hospitality in the fairer months to the droves of tourists. Its summertime in Maine, and the livin’ is easy and eatin’ is good at The Monhegan House and Restaurant “A place where the simple island life is made memorable.”
The Monhegan House restaurant is a favorite of natives, tourists from all over the island and the Inn guests. The restaurant utilizes fresh and local ingredients. Lobsters! For a change of pace, The Novelty (behind the hotel) is open throughout the day and evening and offers delicious pizza, wraps and salads as well as an extensive selection of wine and beer. We also offer hand-dipped Shain’s of Maine ice cream and house made bakery items.
Looking to live the simpler and hardier Monhegan Island lifestyle? Consider The Monhegan House- A Maine Island Inn for Sale. There could not be a better Maine location to experience what Robert P. Coffin wrote about so many years ago.
“For Maine ledges and Maine water are good things for the world to look at and feel.” Coffin
In addition, The B&B Team has many coastal Maine properties for sale. 21 in fact!
Thanks for Listening,
PS- And thanks to my Aunt Hennie for teaching me the messy etiquette of hand shelling a lobster.