If you were to analyze my DNA, you would see that it mostly contains sand and saltwater. None of those difficult chains here, 50% ESVA (Eastern Shore, Virginia) and 25% Outer Banks. I grew up in a family that worked on the water, prepared food from the water and ate that food from the water. I spent many a childhood day reeling in a line, baiting a crab pot or signing for clams. The beau is also of watermen decent. (We have joked it is this heritage that contributes to our amazing tolerance of alcohol… though my remaining 25% is coal mining people… so I say I’m tougher based on that West Virginia breeding. That’s moonshiners country.)
Dinner last night was like many meals of our childhood. We had puppy drum that the beau had caught Saturday. I decided to bake the drum in the oven along with some roasted veggies. We still had half an hour before that would be ready which left plenty of time to steam up a bag of clams. Mmmmmmm, steamed clams!
Soooooooo good! I love steamed clams, and not to get all Benjamin Buford Bubba Blue on you here, but I love clams in every five thousand ways you can prepare those things. Chowders, stews, fritters, raw! I love clams.
I began culling through the bag of them, checking everyone for liveliness before I chunked them in the pot. I came across one whose shell was slightly ajar. This could be a sign that the clam is dead, and for you who have never steamed your own clams… lesson number one … a dead clam is a bad clam. Don’t eat that mofo!
I turned on the faucet and ran a gentle stream over the clam and he quickly closed himself completely. Yay! Good clam! With the pot filled, I put in on a burner and let that heat rip. It was time to get these guys steamed.
This may seem off subject here for a minute, but being Buddhist does not require you to be a vegetarian. There are different teachings and one of the beliefs is that it is okay to eat things other than plants as long as you are not wasteful and that you use resources that are available to you locally.
As a cloud of steam started to rise from the pot and the occasional ‘pop’ of shells started, I peaked in on our appetizer. I began pulling clams out on a tray. Suddenly, I was hit by a wave of sadness. I had just murdered thirty living things, right there in my own kitchen. They had just spent ten minutes being steamed to death. Holding tightly to their shells with all the muscle they had until they finally couldn’t fight the inevitable any longer. ‘Pop’ goes the clam. Another little soul off to heaven.
Bah! What is wrong with me?! I have spent my whole entire life preparing seafood. There is a percentage of those creatures that walk the plank to their final moments. Like crabs for example…
Sometimes, they hold claws like a line of kindergartners on the way to lunch.
Pan of steamed clams on the table, we start to dig in. The fish and squash still have a bit more time in the oven, so this gives me the opportunity to discuss my inner turmoil.
“It’s funny how your perspective on death and food changes the older you get.”
The beau dips a clam in melted butter, “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah. As a child, I never gave much consideration to steaming clams. You just did it and then you ate. Tonight, I was testing a clam to see if it was still alive. It was, so I tossed him in the pot. After the water was steaming away, I felt bad. You know, I just steamed something to death. DEATH!”
“And you feel bad about it?” The beau looks at me as I throw another perfect little clam in my mouth.
“Well, not too bad I guess.”
I just can’t imagine what I’ll be like in another twenty years if I keep going at this rate. When will I start feeling bad for the tomato, the banana, the lettuce? I can’t see myself ever giving up meat totally, but boy does it feel bad listening to the hissing sound of a clam about to throw in the towel and wave the white flag.
Well, not that bad.
Mmmmm … clams.