Saturday 5 October 2013

Losing my (lobster eating) virginity, and other adventures...

Look who's going in the pot!
So, I did it.. I came to Canada and I ate a lobster.. a real (almost) live, whole lobster and.. I liked it. I think. With the help of my house mate Renee, we cooked and ate the lobsters I had taken home from the lab the day before (no, they weren't 'contaminated' or 'sick', before anyone decides to publish a newspaper article on it!). Apparently the best way to eat lobster is with a little bread, and a lot of butter, so we popped up the road to Sobeys (Canada's answer to Sainsburys) and stocked up on supplies for the big cook. Renee's dad had also supplied us with some amazing pumpkin cider which he had brought all the way from New Hampshire - it was delicious, and as I put it, 'tasted like Christmas'. 
Sorry lobbies.
The lobster itself didn't really taste 'fishy', as I'd expected it to, it was slightly salty (although we're not sure if this is because we put too much salt in the boiling water), and tender. Lobster taste varies according to area, so if you were eating it in Maine, you would get a very 'sweet' tasting meat. We were a little worried as the lobsters had been frozen the day before, but they turned out pretty good, according to in house lobster expert of the evening, Renee. I think the cats have a taste for lobster too, as they were trying to climb all over the table whilst we were eating, and proceeded to try and lick the shell bowl after we had finished eating! Maybe, in the days before my host, Lyndsay, had taken them in, they had developed expensive tastes! Naturally, being this side of the pond, our lobster dinner was followed by a shared tub of Ben and Jerry's 'If I had 1000000 flavours' ice cream - the perfect end to a wonderful evening. 

A dinner fit for kings!
Now, I know I've always said I don't like the idea of eating lobster - mainly because with the amount of lobster dissections I've had to do for my PhD over the years - it has put me right off. It also has something to do with the idea of diseases - obviously, as a pathologist, diseases are 'my thing', and it surprises me what can be inside a seemingly healthy looking lobster. All of the diseases I have looked at so far do not affect humans, and affected lobsters can still be eaten - shell disease is more an aesthetic thing, most shell diseased lobsters are forced to be sold into the lower value canned meat industry, as nobody wants a scabby looking lobster on their plate! I have heard that shell diseased crab causes a 'metallic' taste, but I've not read it about lobsters. Other pathogens, such as nicothoe parasites, live on the gills.. which wouldn't be eaten anyway, and they are only interested in sucking lobster blood, so nothing to be scared of there! 
My work so far has actually been funded by a project called 'SUSFISHShellfish Productivity in the Irish Sea: working towards a sustainable future', and another grant from the Fisheries Challenge Fund - 'Importation of live lobsters into the U.K. - An assessment of disease transfer to European lobsters'. Both of these projects are concerned with fisheries, and sustainability, so I support lobster fishing - if it is done sustainably... I feel a whole new blog post coming on regarding this, but there is a time and a place!
All of the trees!
Okay, so before the epic lobster feast on Friday, I failed to mention that en route to 'school' (I love that they call it that here!), I managed to capture a picture of some of the elusive foxes! Unfortunately, it wasn't the rare black one with a white tail, as mentioned in blog post 28/09/13, but a couple of regular red foxes (Vulpes vulpes, for all the Caspians out there). I see them daily, walking to, and from school. They don't seem perturbed by humans, so I'm pretty sure that someone out there is feeding them, as they really do come quite close. However, after whipping out my camera they all scarpered pretty sharpish, so it makes me wonder whether they thought it was a gun? Do people shoot foxes out here? My camera was slung over my shoulder, so quite possibly... Either way, I managed to get a couple of snaps, not so great, but you can see how close they don't mind getting.
Friday was full of awesome-ness, as that afternoon, Renee had invited me out with some of her course-mates (1st year veterinarian students) to go apple picking at Wintermoor Orchard, in York  (about a 10 minute drive out of Charlottetown). I waited for Renee after class, and it was a little scary because AVC is a relatively small 'school', and I was clearly an outsider, so I did get some funny looks in the corridor by the lockers... however, there was nothing to worry about after Renee arrived and I had been introduced to everyone. Her friend Liz took us to the orchard to save us taking too many cars, and we managed to get there without getting lost! The orchard was huge! There were several different types of apple in season, and we were given a map which we quickly forgot whilst exploring. The woman had told us we were allowed to sample and eat the apples as we went, which was a bad idea, as we all ended up eating our way through the orchard (never give students a free lunch.. we will take advantage!). I chose a few different types, and the boys came in handy for the shiny big apples which were higher up.
Now, just by chance, on Friday, I happened to be wearing a 'plaid' (checkered) shirt, and I noticed that a few of the girls were too wearing them. It turned out that Friday was actually 'Plaidurday' - a worldwide celebration of plaid which occurs annually on the first Friday of October. Who'd have known?! Naturally, we had to have a plaidurday photo.
Giant pumpkin.
At the orchard, they also have a cider press, and we were invited to a cider pressing event on Sunday, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it out there. I already have so many other plans, this weekend has been exciting! They also sold pumpkins, and I know halloween is a HUGE deal over here, so I just assumed that they were all out for the upcoming event. Since the day I arrived in Charlottetown I have seen houses decorated for halloween, and even specialist halloween shops dotted around the place - it really is crazy, like Christmas! Anyway, at the orchard they had the biggest pumpkin I have ever seen, and Renees friend Wilson was pretty tall, but as you can see, it still looked pretty impressive! Giant pumpkins?! I hear you ask... Yes, my blog really is that exciting. You're welcome.

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