need to be 3 full pages. each body paragraph need to be 2 quote from the each paragraph.Take the example from the article to explain the quote
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Novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace was the Roy E. Disney Professor of Creative
Writing at Pomona College until his death in 2008. Highly respected during his lifetime, he was
a recipient of the MacArthur fellowship (colloquially known as the “genius grant”) from 1997 to
2002, as well as a winner of the Salon Book Award and the Lannan Literary Award for fiction.
His significant publications include the novels The Broom of the System (1987) and Infinite
Jest (1996) as well as Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1999), a collection of short stories.
Wallace was also a noted essayist, writing for publications such as Rolling Stone, Harper’s
Magazine, and the Atlantic. Wallace’s The Pale King (2011), an unfinished novel, was published
three years after his death.
In Consider the Lobster and Other Essays (2005), the collection from which this selection is
taken, Wallace explores a broad range of topics, including the adult film industry’s Adult Video
News Awards, the criticisms of novelist John Updike, Kafka’s wit, the political underbelly of
dictionary publications, Senator John McCain, and the seductive and disappointing paradox of
sports athlete memoirs. While these topics appear to be unrelated, Wallace’s versatility
exemplifies his common concern with current concepts of morality. This notion of morality is
strikingly clear in the title essay “Consider the Lobster,” originally published
in Gourmet magazine.
Wallace finds it curious that lobster is the one creature that is usually cooked while still alive.
Though many people find this practice unproblematic, believing that lobsters cannot feel pain,
Wallace observes that lobsters can at least exhibit a preference for not being lowered into a pot
of boiling water. This observation leads Wallace to question our justifications for eating lobster,
and indeed, our eating of animals altogether. Ultimately, “Consider the Lobster” raises many
questions about the practices we engage in as a species, our definitions of pain and suffering, and
our understanding of the world around us.

TAGS: empathy, ethics, food and agriculture, judgment and decision making

CONNECTIONS: Appiah, Fukuyama, Ma, Moalem, Pollan, Watters
Consider the Lobster
The enormous, pungent, and extremely well-marketed Maine Lobster Festival is held every
late July in the state’s midcoast region, meaning the western side of Penobscot Bay, the
nerve stem of Maine’s lobster industry. What’s called the midcoast runs from Owl’s Head
and Thomaston in the south to Belfast in the north. (Actually, it might extend all the way up
to Bucksport, but we were never able to get farther north than Belfast on Route 1, whose
summer traffic is, as you can imagine, unimaginable.) The region’s two main communities
are Camden, with its very old money and yachty harbor and five-star restaurants and
phenomenal B&Bs, and Rockland, a serious old fishing town that hosts the festival every
summer in historic Harbor Park, right along the water.1

There’s a comprehensive native apothegm: “Camden by the sea, Rockland by the smell.”
Tourism and lobster are the midcoast region’s two main industries, and they’re both
warm-weather enterprises, and the Maine Lobster Festival represents less an intersection of
the industries than a deliberate collision, joyful and lucrative and loud. The assigned subject
of this Gourmet article is the 56th Annual MLF, 30 July–3 August 2003, whose official
theme this year was “Lighthouses, Laughter, and Lobster.” Total paid attendance was over
100,000, due partly to a national CNN spot in June during which a senior editor of Food &
Wine magazine hailed the MLF as one of the best food-themed galas in the world. 2003
festival highlights: concerts by Lee Ann Womack and Orleans, annual Maine Sea Goddess
beauty pageant, Saturday’s big parade, Sunday’s William G. Atwood Memorial Crate Race,
annual Amateur Cooking Competition, carnival rides and midway attractions and food
booths, and the MLF’s Main Eating Tent, where something over 25,000 pounds of freshcaught Maine lobster is consumed after preparation in the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker
near the grounds’ north entrance. Also available are lobster rolls, lobster turnovers, lobster
sauté, Down East lobster salad, lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, and deep-fried lobster
dumplings. Lobster thermidor is obtainable at a sit-down restaurant called the Black Pearl on
Harbor Park’s northwest wharf. A large all-pine booth sponsored by the Maine Lobster
Promotion Council has free pamphlets with recipes, eating tips, and Lobster Fun Facts. The
winner of Friday’s Amateur Cooking Competition prepares Saffron Lobster Ramekins, the
recipe for which is now available for public downloading at
There are lobster T-shirts and lobster bobblehead dolls and inflatable lobster pool toys and
clamp-on lobster hats with big scarlet claws that wobble on springs. Your assigned
correspondent saw it all, accompanied by one girlfriend and both his own parents — one of
which parents was actually born and raised in Maine, albeit in the extreme northern inland
part, which is potato country and a world away from the touristic midcoast.2

N.B. All personally connected parties have made it clear from the start that they do not want to
be talked about in this article.
For practical purposes, everyone knows what a lobster is. As usual, though, there’s much
more to know than most of us care about — it’s all a matter of what your interests are.
Taxonomically speaking, a lobster is a marine crustacean of the family Homaridae,
characterized by five pairs of jointed legs, the first pair terminating in large pincerish claws
used for subduing prey. Like many other species of benthic carnivore, lobsters are both
hunters and scavengers. They have stalked eyes, gills on their legs, and antennae. There are a
dozen or so different kinds worldwide, of which the relevant species here is the Maine
lobster, Homarus americanus. The name “lobster” comes from the Old English loppestre,
which is thought to be a corrupt form of the Latin word for locust combined with the Old
English loppe, which meant spider.
Moreover, a crustacean is an aquatic arthropod of the class Crustacea, which comprises
crabs, shrimp, barnacles, lobsters, and freshwater crayfish. All this is right there in the
encyclopedia. And arthropods are members of the phylum Arthropoda, which phylum covers
insects, spiders, crustaceans, and centipedes/millipedes, all of whose main commonality,
besides the absence of a centralized brain-spine assembly, is a chitinous exoskeleton
composed of segments, to which appendages are articulated in pairs.
The point is that lobsters are basically giant sea insects.
The point is that lobsters are basically giant sea insects.3 Like most arthropods, they date
from the Jurassic period, biologically so much older than mammalia that they might as well
be from another planet. And they are — particularly in their natural brown-green state,
brandishing their claws like weapons and with thick antennae awhip — not nice to look at.
And it’s true that they are garbagemen of the sea, eaters of dead stuff,4 although they’ll also
eat some live shellfish, certain kinds of injured fish, and sometimes one another.

Midcoasters’ native term for a lobster is, in fact, “bug,” as in “Come around on Sunday and
we’ll cook up some bugs.”
Factoid: Lobster traps are usually baited with dead herring.
But they are themselves good eating. Or so we think now. Up until sometime in the
1800s, though, lobster was literally low-class food, eaten only by the poor and
institutionalized. Even in the harsh penal environment of early America, some colonies had
laws against feeding lobsters to inmates more than once a week because it was thought to be
cruel and unusual, like making people eat rats. One reason for their low status was how
plentiful lobsters were in old New England. “Unbelievable abundance” is how one source
describes the situation, including accounts of Plymouth Pilgrims wading out and capturing
all they wanted by hand, and of early Boston’s seashore being littered with lobsters after hard
storms — these latter were treated as a smelly nuisance and ground up for fertilizer. There is
also the fact that premodern lobster was cooked dead and then preserved, usually packed in
salt or crude hermetic containers. Maine’s earliest lobster industry was based around a dozen
such seaside canneries in the 1840s, from which lobster was shipped as far away as
California, in demand only because it was cheap and high in protein, basically chewable fuel.
Now, of course, lobster is posh, a delicacy, only a step or two down from caviar. The
meat is richer and more substantial than most fish, its taste subtle compared to the marinegaminess of mussels and clams. In the U.S. pop-food imagination, lobster is now the seafood
analog to steak, with which it’s so often twinned as Surf ’n’ Turf on the really expensive part
of the chain steakhouse menu.
In fact, one obvious project of the MLF, and of its omnipresently sponsorial Maine
Lobster Promotion Council, is to counter the idea that lobster is unusually luxe or unhealthy
or expensive, suitable only for effete palates or the occasional blow-the-diet treat. It is
emphasized over and over in presentations and pamphlets at the festival that lobster meat has
fewer calories, less cholesterol, and less saturated fat than chicken.5 And in the Main Eating
Tent, you can get a “quarter” (industry shorthand for a 1¼-pound lobster), a four-ounce cup
of melted butter, a bag of chips, and a soft roll w/butter-pat for around $12.00, which is only
slightly more expensive than supper at McDonald’s.

Of course, the common practice of dipping the lobster meat in melted butter torpedoes all these
happy fat-specs, which none of the council’s promotional stuff ever mentions, any more than
potato industry PR talks about sour cream and bacon bits.
Be apprised, though, that the Maine Lobster Festival’s democratization of lobster comes
with all the massed inconvenience and aesthetic compromise of real democracy. See, for
example, the aforementioned Main Eating Tent, for which there is a constant Disneylandgrade queue, and which turns out to be a square quarter mile of awning-shaded cafeteria lines
and rows of long institutional tables at which friend and stranger alike sit cheek by jowl,
cracking and chewing and dribbling. It’s hot, and the sagged roof traps the steam and the
smells, which latter are strong and only partly food-related. It is also loud, and a good
percentage of the total noise is masticatory. The suppers come in styrofoam trays, and the
soft drinks are iceless and flat, and the coffee is convenience-store coffee in more styrofoam,
and the utensils are plastic (there are none of the special long skinny forks for pushing out
the tail meat, though a few savvy diners bring their own). Nor do they give you near enough
napkins considering how messy lobster is to eat, especially when you’re squeezed onto
benches alongside children of various ages and vastly different levels of fine-motor
development — not to mention the people who’ve somehow smuggled in their own beer in
enormous aisle-blocking coolers, or who all of a sudden produce their own plastic tablecloths
and spread them over large portions of tables to try to reserve them (the tables) for their own
little groups. And so on. Any one example is no more than a petty inconvenience, of course,
but the MLF turns out to be full of irksome little downers like this — see for instance the
Main Stage’s headliner shows, where it turns out that you have to pay $20 extra for a folding
chair if you want to sit down; or the North Tent’s mad scramble for the NyQuil-cup-sized
samples of finalists’ entries handed out after the Cooking Competition; or the much-touted
Maine Sea Goddess pageant finals, which turn out to be excruciatingly long and to consist
mainly of endless thanks and tributes to local sponsors. Let’s not even talk about the grossly
inadequate Port-A-San facilities or the fact that there’s nowhere to wash your hands before or
after eating. What the Maine Lobster Festival really is is a midlevel county fair with a
culinary hook, and in this respect it’s not unlike Tidewater crab festivals, Midwest corn
festivals, Texas chili festivals, etc., and shares with these venues the core paradox of all
teeming commercial demotic events: It’s not for everyone.6 Nothing against the euphoric
senior editor of Food & Wine, but I’d be surprised if she’d ever actually been here in Harbor
Park, amid crowds of people slapping canal-zone mosquitoes as they eat deep-fried Twinkies
and watch Professor Paddywhack on six-foot stilts in a raincoat with plastic lobsters
protruding from all directions on springs, terrify their children.

In truth, there’s a great deal to be said about the differences between working-class Rockland
and the heavily populist flavor of its festival versus comfortable and elitist Camden with its
expensive view and shops given entirely over to $200 sweaters and great rows of Victorian
homes converted to upscale B&Bs. And about these differences as two sides of the great coin
that is U.S. tourism. Very little of which will be said here, except to amplify the abovementioned paradox and to reveal your assigned correspondent’s own preferences. I confess that I
have never understood why so many people’s idea of a fun vacation is to don flip-flops and
sunglasses and crawl through maddening traffic to loud, hot, crowded tourist venues in order to
sample a “local flavor” that is by definition ruined by the presence of tourists. This may (as my
festival companions keep pointing out) all be a matter of personality and hardwired taste: The
fact that I do not like tourist venues means that I’ll never understand their appeal and so am
probably not the one to talk about it (the supposed appeal). But, since this FN will almost surely
not survive magazine-editing anyway, here goes:
As I see it, it probably really is good for the soul to be a tourist, even if it’s only once in a while.
Not good for the soul in a refreshing or enlivening way, though, but rather in a grim, steely-eyed,
let’s-look-honestly-at-the-facts-and-find-some-way-to-deal-with-them way. My personal
experience has not been that traveling around the country is broadening or relaxing, or that
radical changes in place and context have a salutary effect, but rather that intranational tourism is
radically constricting, and humbling in the hardest way — hostile to my fantasy of being a true
individual, of living somehow outside and above it all. (Coming up is the part that my
companions find especially unhappy and repellent, a sure way to spoil the fun of vacation travel.)
To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for
something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by
way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose
yourself on places that in all non-economic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in
lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension of yourself that is as
inescapable as it is painful: As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially
loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.
Lobster is essentially a summer food. This is because we now prefer our lobsters fresh,
which means they have to be recently caught, which for both tactical and economic reasons
takes place at depths less than 25 fathoms. Lobsters tend to be hungriest and most active (i.e.,
most trappable) at summer water temperatures of 45–50 degrees. In the autumn, most Maine
lobsters migrate out into deeper water, either for warmth or to avoid the heavy waves that
pound New England’s coast all winter. Some burrow into the bottom. They might hibernate;
nobody’s sure. Summer is also lobsters’ molting season — specifically early- to mid-July.
Chitinous arthropods grow by molting, rather the way people have to buy bigger clothes as
they age and gain weight. Since lobsters can live to be over 100, they can also get to be quite
large, as in 30 pounds or more — though truly senior lobsters are rare now because New
England’s waters are so heavily trapped.7 Anyway, hence the culinary distinction between
hard- and soft-shell lobsters, the latter sometimes a.k.a. shedders. A soft-shell lobster is one
that has recently molted. In midcoast restaurants, the summer menu often offers both kinds,
with shedders being slightly cheaper even though they’re easier to dismantle and the meat is
allegedly sweeter. The reason for the discount is that a molting lobster uses a layer of
seawater for insulation while its new shell is hardening, so there’s slightly less actual meat
when you crack open a shedder, plus a redolent gout of water that gets all over everything
and can sometimes jet out lemonlike and catch a tablemate right in the eye. If it’s winter or
you’re buying lobster someplace far from New England, on the other hand, you can almost
bet that the lobster is a hard-shell, which for obvious reasons travel better.

Datum: In a good year, the U.S. industry produces around 80,000,000 pounds of lobster, and
Maine accounts for more than half that total.
As an à la carte entrée, lobster can be baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, sautéed, stir-fried,
or microwaved. The most common method, though, is boiling. If you’re someone who
enjoys having lobster at home, this is probably the way you do it, since boiling is so easy.
You need a large kettle w/cover, which you fill about half full with water (the standard
advice is that you want 2.5 quarts of water per lobster). Seawater is optimal, or you can add
two tbsp salt per quart from the tap. It also helps to know how much your lobsters weigh.
You get the water boiling, put in the lobsters one at a time, cover the kettle, and bring it back
up to a boil. Then you bank the heat and let the kettle simmer — ten minutes for the first
pound of lobster, then three minutes for each pound after that. (This is assuming you’ve got
hard-shell lobsters, which, again, if you don’t live between Boston and Halifax is probably
what you’ve got. For shedders, you’re supposed to subtract three minutes from the total.) The
reason the kettle’s lobsters turn scarlet is that boiling somehow suppresses every pigment in
their chitin but one. If you want an easy test of whether the lobsters are done, you try pulling
on one of their antennae — if it comes out of the head with minimal effort, you’re ready to
ster is supposed to be alive when you put it in the kettle. This is part of lobster’s modern
appeal — it’s the freshest food there is. There’s no decomposition between harvesting and
eating. And not only do lobsters require no cleaning or dressing or plucking, they’re
relatively easy for vendors to keep alive. They come up alive in the traps, are placed in
containers of seawater, and can — so long as the water’s aerated and the animals’ claws are
pegged or banded to keep them from tearing one another up under the stresses of
captivity8 — survive right up until they’re boiled. Most of us have been in supermarkets or
restaurants that feature tanks of live lobsters, from which you can pick out your supper while
it watches you point. And part of the overall spectacle of the Maine Lobster Festival is that
you can see actual lobstermen’s vessels docking at the wharves along the northeast grounds
and unloading fresh-caught product, which is transferred by hand or cart 150 yards to the
great clear tanks stacked up around the festi …
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