My wardrobe isn’t bursting at the seams with over-priced designer clothing; I don’t adorn myself with expensive jewelry; I am perfectly happy driving my ridiculously reliable car until it finally runs itself into a 20 year old heap of metal. In fact, these days, I do as much walking as I can, saving my waistline, saving emissions, and well, saving money. Aside from one purse that probably costs more than my entire wardrobe, jewelry box, and car combined, which was a gift that I couldn’t refuse (I tried, but my grandmother insisted), I have just a few functional handbags. I don’t buy or need expensive things for myself and I certainly wouldn’t expect someone else to either.
(Note however, that I didn’t mention weekly deep-tissue massages, but hey, a massage is not a material good).
This is not unusual, as my Father is the exact same way, and prefers to nurture my Mother’s “excellence” in those areas. In case it hasn’t yet been made clear, I am my father’s daughter, and my twin sisters are clones of my mother.
Friends and family know all of this – my very simple lifestyle – about me. However, when it comes to food, they expect me to have wildly extravagant tastes. I don’t. For the most part, my tastes are rather plebe. I love my mother’s home-cooked food. I love a well-executed tamale or chile relleno. I love a hearty, colorful salad that relies less on a frou frou dressing and more on the natural flavors of dirt-grown, sun-ripened vegetables. I love foods that are not too fussy, fresh, flavorful, and always reflective of the love and history behind it.
Of course, simple taste shouldn’t be mistaken for simple, plain flavor. Oh, no, no. The foods I prefer will reach for extremes of sweet and sour and salty and spicy. I also love the inherent complexity of velvety Indian curries based on a mis en place of herbs and spices and ingredients that could take up an entire tabletop, braises and stews with the meat’s deep, rich flavors coaxed out by long, slow cooking, and ethnic foods that are exotic to me because they are new, not because they have been flown in from across the world, costing a small fortune. I am in absolute heaven when I sit down and stick my face in the steam rising off a bowl of long-simmered broth, stained a deep dark red from chilis. If I am glistening like an opal with perspiration and weeping from the heat, I have reached gustatory nirvana for, oh, I don’t know, something like all the change between the cushions on my sofa.
However, I can still appreciate artistically plated dishes of uber-expensive ingredients that were acquired by sending some lone sherpa up a precarious mountainside and then to the bottom of some deep, frigid lake teeming with aqua predators for a tiny half ounce flask of something worth a Lamborghini, as long as it tastes good. I can also understand others’ enjoyment of the “finer” things like caviar, fois gras, saffron, and truffles, but this is where my simple tastes take over. These things have never tasted as luxurious and other-worldly to me as their prices would indicate. In fact, I don’t enjoy the way they taste at all. Lobster, too, has never tasted that great to me.
See? A cheapskate's dream date.
Despite, my *ahem* non-sentiments about Valentine’s Day and how I would find it extraordinarily useless to buy fresh flowers, diamonds and stuffed animals for one another, I made a Valentine’s Day dinner. Despite my preference for un-fussy presentation and despite my non-love for lobster, I served little heart-shaped towers of avocado, mango, and lobster. Hypocrisy, thy name is Sarah!
But I didn’t eat the lobster.
Well, just a bite.
But I didn’t inhale!
And I wasn't wearing a single diamond.
Lobster Mango Avocado Tower
Why pretend like there's a "recipe?" Why? There isn't. These are just some basic guidelines and a list of resources for how to steam lobster. For two people, use one avocado, one mango, and one lobster. Depending on your appetite, it's either a generous first course or a light main course.
Dice a ripe avocado.
Toss diced avocado with salt, pepper, and a generous squeeze of either lemon or lime juice. Lemon is traditional (with seafood! just look at the garnish at Red Lobster!), and lime makes it "Cali-Mex." I hate myself for typing the term "Cali-Mex," by the way.
Dice a ripe mango.
Steam a big lobster. Let it cool enough so you can handle it without burning yourself, and pull meat out in largest pieces possible. You could toss the lobster meat with melted butter, but as much as I love butter, I find this to be disgusting. I have no idea why -- probably because I have it in my head that I hate lobster and not even butter could make it better.
Layer avocado, mango and lobster on a plate using a ring. I used a heart shaped cookie cutter because it's Valentine's Day. From the picture, you can tell that I put down the avocado first. You can go all kinds of crazy and put the mango on the bottom.
Resources for Steaming Lobster and Preparing Mango and Avocado:
~ How to Steam Lobster: Maine Lobster Council's instructions