Food Country

Food Country is a weekly web series featuring Chef Michael Smith and the flavours, people and stories of Prince Edward Island.

One week Food Country follows Michael as he explores the island, searching for fresh ingredients. The next week Food Country visits Michael’s home kitchen as he cooks and creates simple healthy food.

New episodes every Tuesday.

Episode 15 > Lobster

The waters surrounding Prince Edward Island are some of the most fertile in the world. We’re blessed with many fisheries but without question our most popular and valuable is lobster. This tasty crustacean is a genuine culinary ambassador for the island!

On my end of the island one of the first signs of spring every year is the appearance of giant stacks of hand made lobster traps down at the wharf. The spring lobster season starts around May 1st and we all eagerly look forward to our first ‘feed.’ As the first boats of the season steam back ashore it feels like a holiday. The docks are lined with well-wishers young and old and that night everyone enjoys a lobster or three.

I’ve been out on lobster boats many times but recently traveled all the way to the other end of the island to go fishing with Francis Morrissey. No one knows more about lobster than he does so I wasn’t surprised that I learned a few new things that day. And not just about how to catch lobster.

Francis shared with me his way of cooking lobster. He prefers to boil them in seawater, then refrigerate them and enjoy them cold. In fact most islanders prefer them cold. He also pointed out that’s its best to store them upside down so their tasty juices don’t leak out!

Lobster fishermen are very competitive with each other but also cooperate closely. Every port is part of a district with a specific season when were allowed to fish. Once the boats steam out of port there are no rules that regulate exactly where they may set their traps but there is unwritten tradition more powerful than any law. Fathers routinely pass along to their sons their gear and informal rights to an area. Somehow upwards of 50 boats sort out how best to cover their district without overlapping each other. Everyone agrees to run their sets in the same direction so their lines don’t get tangled and once back on shore you’ll never hear a lobster fisherman bragging about his catch.

Lobster fishing is very hard work. Most boats head out long before dawn to take advantage of calmer waters in the early morning. It’s cold, wet, relentless work but it’s fulfilling work, real work. Next time you’re on Prince Edward Island head down to the nearest wharf and strike up a conversation with a fisherman. You’ll find them friendly and proud. Make sure you thank them for their hard work!

Comments

  1. jeffc said: On Apr 21, 2011

    this is a good about lobster show i learn every day i been watching your show when you were traveing across canada on train and in the world

  2. Daniel said: On Apr 16, 2011

    Great show,I would like too see how to steam lobsters they say there less water in them than boil and tast beter steamed ; )

  3. Loved the video and all the rest aswell. Im from London and was so sad to miss you there last weekend! Love the east coast, my familys in newbrunswick so brings back lots of lobster memories! Love it, keep up the amazing shows and videos!
    your fav fan!

  4. Lily said: On Apr 13, 2011

    Michael, enjoy your style and show…….did like your hair pulled back better though…very stylish!!
    Tanya above said she misses the community and the send off every morning was special…….what send off is she referring to??

  5. Linda said: On Apr 13, 2011

    can’t wait to visit the East Coast West is nice but always felt a pull to the East…thanks for all the interesting articles

  6. virginia said: On Apr 13, 2011

    Michael, I love way you get gabe to try new things . Gabe is such a nice kid

  7. Dee said: On Apr 12, 2011

    Michael: Thanks for sharing this new video and to the gentleman who took you out on his boat. I do miss the Atlantic lobster and found it interesting to see that they package individual lobster in salt water, then freeze. We are over in BC but I would love to know where to purchase those frozen ones :)

  8. Annie said: On Apr 12, 2011

    Can’t wait to learn how to cook a lobster next week! Thanks for all this very interesting information!

  9. Tanya said: On Apr 12, 2011

    Yuuuuuum! I’ll have to get my mom to send me some lobster from home! The stuff commercially shipped to Ottawa ends up losing tons of flavour – and no seawater to cook it in :(.
    Also miss the community. The send off every morning is a special moment :)

Leave a Reply