Eating Lobster



Lobsters are crustaceans with hard exoskeletons. They live in crevices or burrows on the sea floor, between 2 and 900 metres below the surface. Although they normally walk slowly on the sea floor, in an emergency they are capable of swimming backwards at more than 17 km/h! Because their environment is dark and murky they mostly use their antennae as sensors, rather than their eyes. Lobsters are usually 25–50 centimetres long. At least one study has suggested that lobsters weaken very little with age, and some scientists have even claimed that if they escape injury, disease or capture, lobsters could live "indefinitely".

The American formula known in every lobster restaurant says that lobsters should be cooked for seven minutes for the first pound of weight and three minutes for each additional pound. The heaviest lobster ever recorded came in at 44.4 pounds, which adds up to 137 minutes of cooking!


There are many wonderful recipes in which the delicious, sweet lobster flesh is used as the primary ingredient in a ready-to-eat dish. Among the most famous of these are lobster bisque, a creamy soup – bisque is thought to derive from Biscay – and lobster thermidor, a creamy preparation of lobster flesh, eggs, sherry and tarragon typically served in the lobster shell. Both of these classics originate from France and naturally both are highly polished staples at the Lobster restaurant at the St. Gotthard hotel.

However, when it comes to accessing the delicious flesh of the lobster through the hard shell, many people are baffled. But with the right technique it really isn’t so tricky. In some lobster restaurants the lobster has already been prepared for easy eating, so a normal knife and fork are all you need. Eating a whole unopened lobster needs a little more work.


If you are going to tackle the beast yourself at a lobster restaurant, a first important step is to protect yourself from splashes with a large lobster napkin. Then, you must arm yourself with lobster tongs and a lobster fork. A refuse plate and a finger bowl will help keep the process tidy.


If a lobster restaurant serves you a whole lobster in the shell, you should start by taking the lobster’s head in your left hand and twisting off the claws, legs and tail – this is where all the most succulent flesh is to be found. With the lobster tongs you can crack the shell of the claws, legs and tail, then pull out the flesh with the fork. The fork has a spoon-shaped handle for scraping more flesh from the shell. There is also some delicious flesh within the head cavity. It is a messy business, but it’s worth it.

At many lobster restaurants, ours included, all this has been done for you by a skilled chef for whom it is a matter of a few seconds work, leaving you free to enjoy the lobster with ordinary cultlery.