The na­ture of things

Lob­ster and scampi

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

AN ar­mour-plated hunter lurk­ing on the seabed along much of the east­ern At­lantic from Nor­way to Morocco, the Euro­pean lob­ster (Ho­marus gam­marus; bot­tom left, bot­tom right) is very sim­i­lar to its North Amer­i­can cousin. If left to de­velop fully, it could reach some 2ft in length and nearly 14lb in weight, although, oc­ca­sion­ally, even larger spec­i­mens have been caught.

In or­der to grow, it must moult pe­ri­od­i­cally, wrig­gling out of the hard, dark-blue shell that pro­vides such use­ful pro­tec­tion, but at such times must re­main hid­den from preda­tors while its new ex­oskele­ton forms, the process tak­ing sev­eral weeks in a ma­ture animal. The old shell, how­ever, has its own value, be­ing full of the nec­es­sary cal­cium that will en­able this to hap­pen, so it will there­fore be kept close by and eaten, bit by bit, by the vul­ner­a­ble, soft crea­ture.

Even the ‘walk­ing’ legs each side will achieve some de­gree of ar­mour and the for­mi­da­ble front claws—a large, blunt one used for crush­ing and a dif­fer­ently formed one for cut­ting prey—be­come par­tic­u­larly strong.

The smaller ‘Nor­way lob­ster’ (Nephrops norvegi­cus; top left, top right), also known as lan­gous­tine or scampi, oc­cu­pies much of the same north-east At­lantic ter­ri­tory. Bear­ing long, thin claws, it’s nat­u­rally creamy-or­ange tinted even with­out be­ing cooked and spends most of its life­time in a bur­row, tun­nelled up to 12in into the seabed. KBH

Il­lus­tra­tion by Bill Dono­hoe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.