A lobster bake is when you go to a nice rocky beach strewn with driftwood and abounding in rockweed. BYO lobsters, corn, clams or mussels plus the other fixings like salads and pies. I did this just last Sunday. My friend Ginny had some artist friends up at her home on the island here, and Jamie and I did a bake for them. Jamie got the rockweed, piled up the rocks and even started a fire. Then he had to go meet some other responsibilities.
Jamie and I do not see eye to eye about lobster bake fires. He likes logs, and I like smaller wood and lots of it. My theory is that you do like the old timers did, and use what you find on the shore. So as soon as the dust from his departing truck settled, I tore his fire apart and built the right sort. It took two hours of a fierce and constant, low profiled fire fueled by wood that I hauled from up and down the beach, none bigger than my arm to get the rock white hot. I piled on the seaweed, and added the seafood and corn, slapped another big layer of seaweed and covered it with a tarp. In an hour the lobsters were done, mussels opened and corn finished. Everyone said oooh, and aahhh.
I was exhausted. I smelled of seaweed and smoke, and lobster juice. But that is how it is supposed to be. The bake master is a downright heroic character. Even, maybe especially, when she has to take two ibuprofen to get to sleep that night.
Now, I read about so-called “lobster bakes” where people take gas tanks, and rings, and lobster pots down to some beach or other and fire up the gas ring, and put the lobsters in a pot, maybe with a little seaweed for flavoring. It’s a cowardly and lazy imitation of the real thing, and oughn’t go by any other name than a lobster BOIL. You know like shrimp boils or crawfish boils or crab boils, which are all perfectly legitimate ways of cooking large quantities. Just let us make sure we call these activities by their proper name. Rocks, wood, fire, seaweed and lobster is a BAKE. A real, proper, old fashioned, pain-the-in-the-lower-back bake.