Though the coastal Indians of Maine and eastern Canada knew about the pleasures of lobster (if not butter sauce) for hundreds or thousands of years, early European Americans were so disdainful of the spiny beast that hardly anyone but prisoners and indentured servants ever took a taste. The upper class finally realized what they were missing in the late 19th century, and today Maine is a veritable lobster Valhalla, made famous by the sweet, succulent Homarus americanus, generally considered the finest crustacean in the sea.
Maine and lobster are all but synonymous and with good reason: The average annual catch along the state’s indented coastline generally exceeds 36 million pounds—more than half the national total. Rockland, on
Penobscot Bay, is the capital of the lobster universe, hosting an annual Lobster Festival that for more than 50 years has offered five days full of live music, seafood-cooking and lobster-eating contests, the coronation of a Sea Goddess, and enough New England Americana (and americanus) to last through the winter.
Even if you’re not in-state for the festivities, heavenly lobster dinners can be had almost any time of the year at any of 1,000 shacks, huts, pounds, and farms found scattered among Maine’s coastal towns. Be sure to dine dockside, so you can enjoy the perfume of the salt air, the sound of the ocean, and the screech of gulls nose-diving for your french fries.