While lobster used to be considered a poor-man’s food, that is certainly no longer the case.

Excerpt from “How to Eat Maine Lobster” issued and published by Maine Dept. of Sea and Shore Fisheries, c. 1950s.

Read on to learn some fun trivia about Maine’s favorite crustacean (including tips about what to eat and how).

Lobster comes in a variety of colors: brown, green, blue and yellow. Most are mottled, or a spotted brown color. The one color a lobster does not come in naturally is red. Lobsters that are red have been cooked.

The two main cooking methods for lobster are steaming and boiling. This should be done with heavily salted water, or better yet actual seawater. Grilling the crustacean is an option, but this can change the taste of the meat and make larger ones tough and dry.

Maine lobsters have two claws. The Hawaiian lobster, sadly, does not have any.

The larger claw is known as a crusher claw, while the thinner, smaller one is the cutter or ripper claw. When you purchase a lobster at the store, they will come with a rubber band around the claws.

Lobsters together in a tank will attack each other, so this band is not for your protection, but for the protection of the lobster. Some people insist the bands must be removed before cooking, while others say it does not make a difference.

The knuckles are the “arm” of the claw.

The body of a lobster is known as the carapace. Inside the carapace there are small pieces of meat, often called rib meat.

The red stuff and the green stuff: tomalley and roe.

The “green stuff” inside the body of a lobster is called tomalley. It is the internal organs of the lobster and serves the same function as a liver or a pancreas.

Tomalley is considered a delicacy. It can be spread on crackers, added to sauces, or just eaten with a spoon. According to Leni Gronros of Graffam Brothers Seafood Market, it is safe to consume.

Gronrose said the mercury content in tomalley used to be a concern, but is not any longer. Pregnant women should not eat the tomalley, though.

The “red stuff” inside the lobster is the roe. Those are lobster eggs. They are also considered a delicacy. Gronros said shops need to have a special license to sell lobster roe and tomalley by itself, but not to add it to dishes for sale.

For many, the tail is their favorite part. When eating a whole lobster tail, be sure to remove the “vein” — for lack of a more appropriate term.

Just like a shrimp, lobster tails have a vein of waste that must be removed before eating. Removing the vein from a lobster is much easier than from a shrimp, though!

Located at the end of the tail, the fins or flippers contain a small amount of flavorful meat.

Yes, there is meat in the little legs!

Some cooks use a rolling pin to squeeze the meat out of the legs, but most Mainers will tell you just place the legs in your mouth and suck out the meat. This can be time consuming, but worth the effort.

Brandon Graffam of Graffam Brothers Seafood Market said people can tell the difference between male and female lobsters by looking at the underside of the tail.

Females have a soft, feathery first set of legs under the tail. Male lobsters have a larger set of first legs, covered in a shell.

Like a taco, lobsters come in hard and soft shell. A soft-shell or “shedder” lobster is one that has molted and is growing a new shell.

Excerpt from “How to Eat Maine Lobster” issued and published by Maine Dept. of Sea and Shore Fisheries, c. 1950s.

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