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Facing my fear: Leopold the lobster

How my fear of seafood cost me my microwave

Andrew Williams

Amanda Woytus

November 11, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST

As a kid, I developed a phobia of marine life. I don’t know how it happened, but it became clear during a family vacation to SeaWorld that the 7-year-old who used to watch The Little Mermaid obsessively was in fact scared of fish, dolphins and — worst of all — Shamu. I’ve repressed the memory, but I’m told there was no way I was going into the splash zone during the killer whale’s show.

Whatever childhood fun my phobia cost me at SeaWorld has paid off in grocery-bill and restaurant-check savings. Chicken is cheap compared to the seafood in this week’s story about expensive dishes in Columbia.
But I knew when we decided to photograph a lobster— the ultimate in white-tablecloth fare — for our special Food and Money Issue that I would have to face my fear. The lobster, whom we named Leopold, made a trip to the Vox office before the photographer took his portrait, and though I didn’t touch him, I did muster up the courage to peek in his box. Unfortunately, one of our alternate covers, which you can view online, required putting Leopold in my microwave, so I can’t use it anymore. Our editor also poked Leo and then put her hand in the box of Wheat Thins I keep in the office. The crackers are now up for grabs. Total cost of this project? Probably somewhere around $65.

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But food and money intersect in more obvious ways than my paranoia. We saw the connection in the cost of organic produce, gourmet splurges and making meals with staples on hand, and we aimed to fill this issue with informative and quirky stories. Whether it’s looking at how families budget grocery money on healthful meals or profiling freegans who Dumpster dive, all contribute to a balanced issue I hope you’ll enjoy.

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