London in the 1970s wasn’t wildly inspirational in terms of food. Everyone was thin because the food was so crap. If you had wanted to get fat you would have had to have eaten more of it and that would have been insane.
‘Another ladleful of greyish, dryish mince?’
However, my dad lived in New York. In fact, New York in the 1970s was run down, poor and dangerous but, compared to London, it seemed like paradise.
One summer dad drove me out to Cape Cod down a huge ten lane highway, hanging one tanned arm out of the window, dangling a cigarette. The sky seemed vast and the heat endless. A woman in a red halter neck swimming costume who wore make-up, jewellery and a hat when she swam in the sharp blue pool, taught me how to cook lobster.
She had bare feet and sand between her toes and she smoked all the time. One day while dad read the papers and drank ten cups of coffee we walked down to the sea and bought enormous black lobsters live from a sun drenched boy in long shorts. He packed them on ice and they rustled and scrabbled crunchily as we carried them home.
The woman in the swimming costume showed me how you stop them screaming when you boil them – hold them upside down and stroke their tails until they curl them round and then quickly throw them into the vat of boiling water and cook until they go bright orangey pink.
You eat them immediately with a saucer of melted butter to dip the flesh into, though it is more like a fight than a meal, smashing claws and sucking the bristly cracked legs. If you are doing this properly a la 1979, you must also smoke throughout and drink at least three strong gin and tonics per lobster.