‘Tis the season for lobster bakes and boils, but truth be told, it isn’t pleasant to wonder if lobsters are suffering a horrific, painful death as you throw them into boiling water in anticipation of eating them with some delicious melted butter or in a fra diavolo.
And People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is adamant that lobsters and other shellfish do, indeed, “suffer every second of the three long minutes that it takes for them to die in boiling water.”
So PETA has asked White House chefs to begin using a new device, called the Crustastun, which stuns (sounds like electrocutes to me) the tasty creatures “into unconsciousness by an electrical current with the push of a button,” killing them before cooking.
PETA’s letter was sent to White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comeford in the hopes she “will set an example for chefs across the country by switching to the Crustastun, sparing the hundreds of lobsters killed for White House dinners the agony of being boiled alive,” PETA Executive VP Tracy Reiman said.
The letter, via PETA’s website, is as follows:
Dear Ms. Comerford,
I am writing to you today on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 3 million members and supporters regarding the White House’s serving of lobster, including at prominent events such as state dinners and the recent inaugural luncheon. I wanted to let you know that there is a new device available called the Crustastun that eliminates the questionable practice of boiling lobsters alive, thereby preventing their suffering. We hope that the White House will start using it immediately.
Physiological and behavioral studies of crustaceans have amply demonstrated that lobsters do indeed feel pain. They have been shown to possess considerable learning ability as well as nervous and nociceptive systems, and they share human features of the neurochemical systems used in pain perception, including opioid molecules. It is, therefore, unjustifiable to subject such sentient animals to needlessly painful deaths, such as by boiling them alive, which can take up to three excruciatingly painful minutes before they succumb.
With the Crustastun, lobsters are placed in a saline solution within the machine and in contact with an electrode sponge. The operator simply presses a button, and a strong current passes through the brain centers of the lobster, instantly interrupting the nerve function. As a result, the lobster is rendered insensate. This process takes half a second, and in five seconds, the lobster is dead. The science behind Crustastun and our knowledge of sensitivity in crustaceans is available here.
The Crustastun is now being used by a range of businesses, from Michelin-starred restaurants such as Le Manoir and Locanda Locatelli to Whole Foods Market. We respectfully ask that the White House join them.
I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience and possibly meeting with you to discuss this topic.
For a detailed explanation of how this new contraption compassionately kills crustaceans, you can visit Crustastun’s website here.
And when you’re ready to eat your kindly killed creatures:
Emeril Lagasse’s Fresh Crabmeat and Lobster Lasagna (via Food Network)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
Freshly ground white pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 pound fresh spinach, cleaned, stemmed and cut into thin strips
8 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for cartilage
1 1/2 pound lobster, cooked, meat removed and diced
1/2 pound fresh pasta sheets
Truffle oil, for serving, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, 1/2 cup at a time. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook, stirring constantly for 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, garlic and mozzarella cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Set aside.
Grease an 8 by 8 by 2-inch square pan. To assemble, spread 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the pan. Season the crabmeat and lobster with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 1/4 of the crabmeat and lobster over the sauce. Sprinkle some of the remaining Parmesan over the crabmeat. Cover the cheese with a sheet of the fresh pasta. Spread 1/4 of the cheese filling evenly over the pasta. Repeat the layering until all of the ingredients are used. Top the lasagna with the remaining cup of the sauce. Place in the oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle lightly with truffle oil, if desired.