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In Love with Lobsters

Settembre 2009
Oggi sono il vanto culinario del Maine. Ma le aragoste non sono sempre state un cibo prelibato: un tempo le davano ai carcerati o ne facevano addirittura concime.

di Kathleen Becker

File audio:

Freshly caught lobster
Freshly caught lobster
Bill Hancock
Bill Hancock

Language Level B2 (upper intermediate)

Driving along the New England coast in summer, you will see many “lobster shacks” or “lobster pounds.” The coast of Maine (with Nova Scotia in Canada) is the best place to eat lobster in North America. Maine’s clean cold waters have a multitude of nutrients, and the lobstermen fish responsibly. The restaurants usually have a big tank with cold water which contains various lobsters walking around at the bottom of the tank. The lobsters’ claws are tied together so they don’t hurt each other – or the restaurant personnel. The claws also have the most succulent meat! Diners choose the animal they want to eat – maybe the lobster with the most spectacular colour or the most vivacious temperament. The victim is fished out, weighed, cooked – and shortly afterwards it is on the table. Fast food… as long as you know how to eat it of course!


Just imagine: in the past, lobsters were used as fertilizers or fed to prisoners. Today, they are very expensive. One problem is that there are not so many of them around anymore.
Lobsters are omnivores and can live up to a hundred, but mortality is high. Only one in a thousand eggs becomes a lobster that can legally be caught. Lobsters are well protected by their hard carapace. But when they shed their carapace as they grow, they are very vulnerable to predators.


Meanwhile, lobsters have also entered popular culture. As the distinguished writer D. H. Lawrence once said: “Europe’s the mayonnaise, but America supplies the good old lobster.” Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí made a sculpture “Lobster Telephone”, also called the “Aphrodisiac Telephone.” As seafood, lobsters are supposed to be good for your love life. The B52s first single, in 1978, was “Rock Lobster.” And if you spend too much time in the sun this summer, you might become… ‘lobstered’!

Down Maine


Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

One of the many attractions of the state of Maine in New England is the delicious lobster meat that you can eat in restaurants all along the coast. Bill Hancock runs Maine’s oldest lobster restaurant, the Ogunquit Lobster Pound, which first opened for business in 1931. As he explains, today lobster is considered an expensive delicacy, but that wasn’t always the case:

Bill Hancock (Standard American accent):

Lobsters have been around for a long time. And in the old days there were so many of them that you could literally walk down to the beach at low tide and pick them up. And they were considered a poor man’s meal because nobody really wanted to eat them and you couldn’t afford steak, so you would eat lobster. They used to serve them in prisons all the time. They used to use them for fertilizer. And now it’s one of the most expensive things you can go buy in a restaurant, so, you know, you figure it out!


Ogunquit is a Maine holiday resort popular with couples, families and surfers. It is also home to a flourishing gay culture. You can reach it from Boston with Amtrak trains (Ogunquit’s nearest station is Wells).
Bill Hancock’s Ogunquit Lobster Pound is on Route One (504 Main Street). Between May and October, you can take a lobstering boat trip (www.finestkindcruises.com) from Perkins Cove, the start of the scenic Marginal Way to vast Ogunquit Beach.
Barnacle Billy’s in Perkins Cove is another fun lobster restaurant (www.barnbilly.com), while the Meadowmere Resort
 (www.meadowmere.com) is a relaxing friendly place to stay, with a spa and good environmental credentials.

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tank - vasca.

bottom - fondo.

the lobsters’ claws are tied together - le chele delle aragoste sono legate insieme.

weighed - pesata.

fed to prisoners - date da mangiare ai detenuti.

can live up to a hundred - possono vivere fino a 100 anni.

shed - perdono.

supplies - fornisce.


that wasn’t always the case - non è sempre stato così.

have been around for a long time - esistono da parecchio tempo.

at low tide - con la bassa marea.

a poor man’s meal - cibo da poveri.

you figure it out! - vai a capire!