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Lobster Mac and Cheese: The end of civilization as we know it? I think so.

…the combination diminishes the components. The whole is actually less than the sum of its parts.

I’m not necessarily opposed to gilding the lily. In truth I enjoy a gold covered stamen as much as the next slattern. Neither am I in any way against indulging in a little wretched excess from time to time. A third round of Singapore Slings before dinner? Serve ’em up! Deep fat fried cheesecake? I’m game if y’all are, Paula. Pepperoni AND sausage on that double cheese pie? Why the hell not? As long as I’ve got a full six pack in the fridge it’s all good.

Courtesy the Food Network. Ewww.

Courtesy the Food Network. Ewww.

No, I’m no stranger to overindulgence, even gluttony, but even so one has to draw the line somewhere, and for me it’s the addition of lobster to macaroni and cheese or mac and cheese to lobster, depending on your point of view. It’s just too much of a good thing, and though I tend to regard moderation as the province of Gwyneth Paltrow, sissies, milquetoasts and Proust scholars, in this I’m with the mung beaners. Lobster simply has no place in the all-American favorite.

Here’s why: With macaroni and cheese you always run the risk of leaving the table with a stodge ball lodged uncomfortably amidships. Because the dish is delicious in the extreme, more often than not the temptation is to overindulge. It doesn’t matter how much steamed asparagus, undressed green salad or ratatouille comes with it, you will almost certainly waddle away from the table, then collapse on the nearest horizontal surface only to awake two hours later, sweaty, parched and numb from the waist down because the waistband of your pants has cut off all circulation to the lower extremities. The same holds true for meals involving the noble crustacean. So mind bogglingly delicious is the flesh of the bottom feeder, especially when dipped in melted butter, it is only the labor involved in extracting it and the enormous expense of ordering up a second one that keep the delirious diner from taxing the digestive system beyond its limits. When the two are combined, no good can come of it.

"Here's mine. Your LobMacChee is out back in the trough." Via housebeautiful.com.

“Here’s mine. Your LobMacChee is out back in the trough.”
Via housebeautiful.com.

That LobMacChee is much of a muchness is not sufficient for condemnation, of course. Many things are excessive and still manage to stay on my menu — hot fudge brownie sundaes, double bacon bleu cheeseburgers, champagne cocktails and PopTarts for breakfast, to name but a few. No, the reason I object to this new taste sensation is that the combination diminishes the components. The whole is actually less than the sum of its parts. The cheese overpowers the lobster, the lobster distracts from the mac and cheese, and neither shines. And that, quite simply, is why I view the dish as a crime against the palate.

Lobster mac and cheese occasionally turns up among restaurant offerings in the metropolis; however, in the eateries of Downeast Maine it is now apparently de rigeur, as common as muffin tops, missing teeth and limp cole slaw. In fact, it appeared on every menu I perused on my recent trip north to open up the Slattern family summer palace on scenic Chum Bucket Lane. I can only assume the plague is spreading, so consider yourselves warned.

Still not convinced? Well, different streaks, as the saying goes. If you must, here’s a recipe for lobster macaroni and cheese from none other than Her Bang-cellency, the one and only Ina Garten. What else makes sense?

Butter me up, Ina! I’ve got a yen for chocolate cake.

“Psst, your collar. Your collar is UP.” (courtesy Food Network)

People swear by the Barefoot Contessa, but I don’t agree. It’s not just that her bangs bug me, though they most certainly do, or even that I get so preoccupied with the desire to flip her collar back down where it belongs that I can’t focus on the food. What really gets up my nose is the not-so-subtle nagging quality to Ina’s recipes: use extra large eggs, finest quality chocolate, freshly brewed hot coffee. I mean really – once a cup of coffee has been baked into a cake, who could possibly tell the difference between a freshly brewed cup and one that’s been sitting around on the counter for an hour? I’ll tell you who. Nobody.

Then there are the oven temps where the Fahrenheit is always indicated, as in “350 degrees F.” Now there’s an important safety tip, Egon. You don’t want to take a chance that people will think they should set their ovens to 350 Celsius, which if memory serves is approximately the surface temperature of Mercury. But of course, our Contessa spends so much time on the Continent that one understands her need to clarify.

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