Just a couple of lobster Maine-iacs

17 Dec


Meeting Susan Chadima and Michael Steitzer on the coast of Maine this fall gave me the added bonus of getting a crash course in Lobster Eating 101. It turns out that there’s a lot of ripping and draining and cracking and probing and dipping and scraping and poking and dunking required before you can actually eat the lobster. This involves tools, a bucket, a little dish of melted butter, and a very large, plastic bib.

Clearly Susan and Michael have done this a time or two. They’ve lived in Topsham, Maine, for 33 years.

Susan (’76 zoology; ’79 DVM) and Michael (’75 architecture; ’83 master of architecture) met at Iowa State the first week of Susan’s freshman year. (Michael says he saw Susan wearing a pretty dress.) Originally from Cedar Rapids, they moved to Maine looking for a change from the Midwest. (“We thought we’d stay out here for a few years,” they say.) Susan started a veterinary practice and then expanded to a full-fledged clinic: the Androscoggin Animal Hospital.

Michael, an architect with a small firm, designed the clinic. Though he has designed schools, hospitals, and homes, he says 95 percent of his current business is focused on veterinary hospitals, which he has designed all over the country.

Susan is a traditional small-animal veterinarian. She has also traveled to Afghanistan nine times to train veterinarians and perform hands-on medical procedures. The couple recently adopted a street dog from Kabul.

They love living in Maine and say the people are friendly and welcoming.

“People here don’t fit the East Coast stereotype,” Susan says. “It’s very much like the Midwest.”

But back to the lobsters. Lobster fishing, Michael says, is very tricky and territorial. He explains that there’s a complex code of ethics involved among lobster fishermen. Failure to comply with these unwritten lobster laws can resist in swift penalties, such as finding a big hole in the bottom of your boat.

He also wants to be sure Jim and I have the lingo down: You don’t call a lobster restaurant a “lobster shack.” A crab restaurant is a “crab shack,” but a lobster restaurant is a “lobster house.” If you just buy the lobster from a little building on the coast, that’s called a “lobster pound.”

Bon appétit!

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