I grew up by the sea. Summers were spent in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, part of the outer banks. There we would eat shrimp by the platter. Over the years we added all of the islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. I learned to love scallops in Frogmore, South Carolina. Oysters in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Florida was too touristy for my family; for our vacations we traveled North. Myrtle Beach. Fripp Island. Oak Island.
I remember my mother steaming crabs in our kitchen, screaming when one didn't make it into the pot. Seafood was a way of life for us. It was a right. The pursuit of happiness and king crab legs.
So what did I do? I fell in love with a New York Jew who keeps kosher style. Bottom feeders are not allowed. For seafood to be kosher, it must have both fins and scales. No crustaceans. No shrimp. No catfish. It's treif, he said.
It's delicious, I said.
In the beginning, he would go to seafood restaurants with me, begrudgingly ordering chicken fingers off the children's menu. I ordered the lobster stuffed with scallops and shrimp. Nothing about it was kosher style. He stared at me while I writhed with glee in my chair, picking at the shell and sucking my fingertips.
I loved lobster and I loved Abraham.
As we became serious, we had the talk. We were in the bathtub of all places, my urban ocean.
"I love you and I'm not willing to lose you over religion," I told him. "If being Jewish is what makes you who you are, what makes you good and kind and loving, then that is a religion I want to know."
Abraham squeezed my knee in response, never speaking a word.
"On one condition," I added thoughtfully. "I don't have to give up seafood."
Abraham nodded, accepting my terms.
And with that we became the paradox that is Kosher Lobster.