Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Lobsters Debut and Disappear in Germany

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Lobsters Debut and Disappear in Germany

Article excerpt

Now we read that an enterprising Swiss has opened a Down East restaurant in Germany's great Hanseatic city of Hamburg and is doing a tremendous business with Maine lobsters. I believe it, and am here to state that the most wonderful sound in the world is that of a German eating a Maine lobster. I've heard it.

Let me explain as a moderate linguist that the German tongue has two words for eating. One, essen, is familiar to Americans in our daily use of the word "delicatessen," which means fancy eats, as in dainty food. Humans essen. The other word is fressen, which animals do, and we would use fressen if we translated "to eat like a horse." If you see what I mean.

In 1966 the Maine lobster was introduced to the Federal Republic of Germany at the International Food Fair held in Munich. My wife of the moment -- or any moment -- and I were in Munich to pay respects to several cultural shrines, including the Oktoberfest, and we read about this fair and how our home state would have a booth. The street we needed also served the Oktoberfest, so we had some 8,000 Bavarians on the road with us, each of them thinking we were going to the Oktoberfest, too. At the exhibit hall we found things confused, as there had been a power failure. At our Maine booth, when we found it, two young men we know well were doing their utmost to keep a tank of Maine lobsters alive. The electric pump that kept the salt-water tank useful had failed, and for more than a weary hour the two had been agitating the water with paper cups until their arms were numb and the lobsters looked sluggish. Instead of greeting us as long-lost friends in a foreign place, they handed us their paper cups and sat down on the floor. A fresh hand on the bellows did the trick, and we brought the lobsters through to entertain the Munich throngs. This exhibition was a tricky thing to arrange, and the German folk realized that and were giving it thought. Lobsters are perishable, but can be transported if given the right conditions and steady care. Long before the fair, our boys in the state capitol at Augusta had been in touch with the airlines, seeking an utter guarantee that live lobsters from Rockland, Maine, would be delivered live in Munich. This was guaranteed absolutely, so you know well what happened. The first crate went to Vienna instead of Munich. And so on. The booth was pushing two Maine products: lobsters and frozen poultry. The poultry was symbolized by frozen capons, labeled as Cacklebirds, and if kept frozen made no difficulties. The lobsters, shipped live, were to be displayed in a tank of salt water, and from time to time the spectators could see one removed, made ready for the table, and then taste it hot as the attendants served samples on toothpicks. …

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