It was one of those delightful but rare occasions. The whole family was available to get together. And we did. We gathered for a pub dinner at one of Surrey’s local watering holes. Lots of dishes and lots of sharing. The soup of the day was listed on the chalkboard as Manhattan Clam Chowder (that’s the red one) and someone ordered a bowl of it. Surprising, since I thought that I was the only family member who liked it – all the others preferring the Boston or New England version (the white one).
It was a serious bowl – big, steaming, and yummy. But not at all what I expected. When I make the Manhattan version (which is rarely, since I’m the only one that eats it) the clams are swimming in a barely spicy light broth along with tomatoes and some crunchy vegetables. This version was thick, rich, red, and creamy – more of a bisque. Not authentic. But, hey, who cares. It was delicious and we all liked it.
* * *
About 20 years or so ago, we had just tucked our travel trailer into a nice little RV park in Kino Bay, on the edge of the Sea of Cortez on Mexico’s west coast.
The kids rushed down to the beach to splash in the waves. They were soon back at the trailer.
“Hey, Dad. Look at this. It’s really weird. Whenever we splash our hands in the waves we end up with these.” She held up a handful of small clams. Hmm-m-m. Forty-five minutes later we had a big plastic bucket half full of clams.
Hopefully they were safe to eat. I took a few over and checked with the people at the office. My Spanish was pretty iffy but I finally figured out that their apparent concern was not about the clams we had gathered, just why I would want to eat these little clams when I could buy some much bigger ones in town.
OK. Not a definitive answer but on the way back to the trailer I ran into a small group of neighbours visiting from the US. They had been camped on this beach awhile. “Oh, they’re fine to eat. We cooked up a big batch of those last week.” I looked at them appraisingly. They still looked healthy. Good enough for me!
Margaret hauled out a big pot and soon we had a steamed clam feast around the dinette. And enough left over to make a good-sized batch of clam chowder. (The white kind.)
* * *
The nice thing about taking the time to make your own chowder is that you end up with lots of clams in every bowl. Not at all like the canned variety or even restaurant offerings. When I eat those , as delicious as the chowder may be, I’m always hunting (fishing?) around in the bowl to see if I can find any evidence of clams.
Now I need to dig out my Manhattan chowder recipe. I think my family is ready for it.
[Thanks to Three Palms at Kino Bay for the great beach picture]