On Maine, Mom, and a (Working) Menu for Vacation

In a ten days, my partner in crime and grime, our shiba, and I will be en route to a week-long and breathtaking getaway in Maine. With incredible views of the rolling hills, green trees, and fluffy clouds, we’ll spend our days hiking, swimming, reading, napping, and exploring Belfast. Oh, and we’ll be eating a lot. Like, an insane amount of food. And what, pray tell, will we be eating with incredible gluttony and satisfaction?

LOBSTER.

Oh. My. God.

LOBSTER.

But this trip isn’t just about the lobster. I mean, a lot of it is. But Maine holds a very special and overwhelming place in my heart. In my younger days, my family would spend a week or two together in the Pine Tree State. It was the only time I didn’t obsessively focus on practicing an instrument, the only time I didn’t think about school, or my academic deficiencies (fuck you, math and science!). I was granted reprieve from intensive camps (e.g. 6 week sleepaway piano camp, vocal pre-college program).

Instead, I breathed. I shared comfortable and comforting silences with my mother. I hiked with my brother and found myself inspired and moved by his quiet yet powerful leadership. I humored my mom and let her take hundreds of mediocre photos of my mediocre face, but pretended (or allowed myself) to feel beautiful. Though I’m not sure that my mother knew it, I spend a great deal of my time watching her interact with the natural world. She touched remarkably ordinary leaves, sticks, and rocks with an impossible tenderness, warmth, and appreciation. She would pick up some weirdly shaped pebble and exclaimed that she found inspiration for a new pot (she was a potter in the final years of her life).

One of mom's pieces

One of mom’s pieces

I called these

I called these “The Dr. Seuss Series”

At the time, I had high standards for beauty. Things had to be the most unique and aesthetically pleasing in order for my heart to flutter. So, like a typical tween/teenage daughter, I’d roll my eyes (with fondness) at my mother’s ridiculous propensity for finding beauty in random and regular shit.This isn’t to say that Maine is random and regular. It’s stunning. 

And then she died. We never went back, and it’s now been nearly ten years since I last visited. We followed that typical familial trajectory, where my brother and I grew up and we stopped vacationing together as a family. Though I had opportunities to travel to Maine during my college years, and the time that followed, there was something delicately haunting and mystical about the state– a hopeful and subtle promise that my mother would somehow, in some way, be a part of the experience. I hadn’t been ready.

My last trip to Maine

Mom and me, last trip to Maine

But I am, now. I’m filled with a desire to be genuinely compassionate, to myself, to others, to the natural world. And I’m looking forward to assessing those ordinary leaves, sticks, and rocks, to finding pieces of my mother in the earth, the ponds, in my reflection.

And, to bring it back to the main subject at hand, I’m looking forward to lobster. I conflate my (strangely expansive) memories of Maine with those of eating so much damn lobster that we had to be “creative” about what to do with leftovers. Drench it in BBQ sauce. Mix it with rice, vegetables, kimchi, and Kraft American Singles. Eat it for breakfast and for dessert. Put it on a pie. It was fun, but definitely not always delicious.

Now that I’m a grown ass person, I can actually prepare and cook the lobster, myself! How exciting is that?

Though I had promised myself that I wouldn’t make a fully blown for the trip, I just can’t help it. This cabin has a full outdoor kitchen (commercial range, pizza oven, professional grill), so…obviously I need a menu. I don’t think Nico minds my compulsive need to plan our meals, not when it comes to lobster.

Here’s a working list of proposed meals, to soon be assessed and voted on by me and the husband dude. Yea, there’s a voting system. Feel free to pick your favorites in a comment!

Note: I usually create and finalize these menus many months in advance, so this is me being way chiller than ever before. Thank you, therapy!

Breakfast (pick four)

  • Lemon ricotta pancakes
    Breakfast pizza w/ herbs, spinach, and eggs
  • Breakfast quesadillas w/ broccoli, cheddar, and eggs
  • Sour cream coffee cake with orange and chocolate

Lunch (pick four)

  • Tarragon lobster rolls
  • Lobster, kimchi, and egg fried rice
    Lobster corn chowder
  • Lobster grilled cheese sandwich w/ watercress
  • Grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers) on a toasted baguette w/ brie

Dinner (pick six)

  • Pizza (margherita, four cheese, speck + onion)
  • Marinated skirt steak, grilled vegetables, and rice
  • Steamed lobster w/ grilled asparagus and baked stuffed potatoes
  • Lobster and pea risotto, and a salad
  • Grilled lobster w/ garlic/parsley butter, toasted baguette, and browned baby zucchini w/ mint, basil, and pine nuts
  • Grilled lobster with miso butter, jasmine rice, and grilled zucchini
  • Cantonese-style ginger and scallion lobster, jasmine rice, and sautéed bok coy
  • Lobster mac n cheese and salad
  • Lobster, seafood, and pea risotto and a salad
  • Lobster, clam, and kimchi stew, jasmine rice, and garlic sautéed spinach
  • Zuni Café inspired roasted chicken, grilled bread salad, and tomato + cucumber + olive + feta salad
  • Pappardelle w/ roasted cherry tomato cream sauce, and a salad

Dessert (pick 2)

  • Peach and blueberry cake
  • Strawberry mascarpone tart
  • Orange, grapefruit, and green grape compote

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