House Abutting Clambake

Several times this summer, as with last summer lobsters, mussels, and clams are so much cheaper than beef. Twice, we’ve eaten mussels at prices that can’t be beaten, below $5/lb. Mussel Recipe

I rinse the mussels in cool tap water while I re-read the harvest tag. I like ‘em local. I’ll pick through for broken shells and little fellows that just don’t respond with a quick tap.

  • Sauté onion diced (or shallot) in olive oil or butter
  • Sauté garlic (quick-quick, 30 seconds!)
  • White wine to the pan. Boil the harshness off for a minute or two. Before pouring the wine in the pan, taste it. It better be good enough to drink.
  • Add a bit of water (measure?)
  • Add mussels
  • Steam covered until mussels open.
  • Remove from heat immediately.
  • Capture broth, reduce. Keep and freeze for later.
  • Eat

We throw two big bowls on the table. I serve the shellfish in porcelain and collect shells in a large metal bowl. This has nothing to do with the clambake, wealth, cities versus rural life or anything interesting. I live in a town where people come every summer for a clambake. You’ll not find anything more authentic in New England. Cooking goes on all day: half chickens, lobsters, clams, corn. The feast has been discovered by folk from neighboring states. They stand in line admiring the picture-card they see. The photo below was taken by my cell phone this summer at the clambake while I stood in line. It is untouched save the removal of meta-data. House Abutting Clambake

Occupied House

Sadly to our outta-state guests, this house doesn’t stand as a tribute for history. It is not a prop to be captured on a rural New England calendar. It is just another empty house in our town. The next pic does come from an occupied house. The gent within lives alone. If someone lived with him, a local governmental agency might claim a crime is being committed. The house’s wires date from WWII, the conditions are unclean, food is scarce and dirty dishes pile. If two people lived in the house, one would be charged with elder neglect or elder abuse. If one choses to live alone, so be it – we allow your conditions to be hazardous. Funny twist of the law.

My mother reported that Boston laws required household to serve meat at least once per week to servants. Mussels, lobsters, and clams are not suitable for a robust diet. New Englanders used these products for fertilizer. Time have changed a bit. These foods top the hoity-toity list. People drive for hours for a great lobster, mussels on pasta, and a proper clambake. Here we eat lobsters for five-bucks a pound, mussels, and clams the same. These prices are a bit lower than the tourist areas that sit on the coast.

When working in Manhattan last year, I struggled to find seafood (no, not sushi). For me, seafood is a pile-o-seafood on a paper plate. It may come steamed, fried, or baked. The species swim or filter water near me. Manhattan is damn close to the water (oh, alright, it is an island surrounded by salt water). I couldn’t find a clam shack, a lobster shack, or a descent fried fish place. I found a few British “chip shops”. Beer-battered cod sated my immediate needs.

Standing in line at the clambake this summer, the New Yorkers near me discussed their desire to “get here” or “be here”. They see the post card standing before them wishing to step into it. They just need to fix it up a bit. Fixin’ it up may mean finding problems to feeding people affordably, horrible local wages, sparse jobs, and land prices young people can’t afford. Fixin’ it up may mean bringing a bit of New York right here.