THE COMPLEAT CLAMMER by Christopher R. Reaske


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Delightful handbook for digging or catching and preparing clams, oysters, mussels and scallops, the best since Euell Gibbons' classic Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop. Says Reaske, ""I would like to believe that what might be lost in continuity of thought has been compensated for by the shallowness of my research, so much of which was necessarily carried out at low tide."" He includes a brief history of the clam, and much clam trivia. First-off, Reaske dispenses with myths, pointing out that most highly polluted waters are ""off limits"" and that clams and shellfish gathered in ""safe"" waters will be safe. ""Most clams are fine. . .Clams can be eaten any month of the year, 'r' or no 'r' ""since clams are gathered year-round. Clamming is done, of course, at low tide, when the water has a special play of light and one can discover things about oneself as a hunting animal, something instinctual and private: ""Standing still, alone at the edge of the water on a long stretch of deserted beach, or walking slowly through an inland saltwater marsh at low tide, I feel very much at peace with an unchanging part of the world. I find it easy to center in this world that is characterized by natural bouquets of sea lavender, by sea grasses quivering in the breeze. . ."" Along with various equipment to help you gather shellfish, Reaske suggests that for gathering quahogs you bring an inner tube from the center of which you can hang your standard metal clam basket fully sunk, with a rope from the tube tied around your waist. ""The tube will float to your side as you dig for quahogs, keeping the quahogs in water in the basket and not burdening you with any weight."" The delights of preparing seafood coincides with extremely pleasurable associations, of the shore on weekends, of seaside picnics, or of first tasting oysters or lobsters. But the giant payoff, which Reaske details finely, is the clambake, with all varieties of seafood plus corn in the husk, onions, sausages and chicken steaming in seaweed on hot rocks in a small pit. When you read ""How to Have a Clambake,"" you'll know the Roman emperors didn't have everything. Liplickin', and with a few spiritual glimmers about the clammers.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1986
Publisher: Nick Lyons