Happy as a clam.
It’s that time of year again – Orleans’ end of summer celebration, the ClamBQ! Snow’s is a proud supporting sponsor of this annual food & music festival, and we hope to see you in Eldredge Park this Saturday. In the spirit of these magical mollusks, let’s chat about clams, shall we? Along with (the perhaps more celebrated) oysters and scallops, clams have a deep connection with Cape Cod. We love to eat them, we love to decorate our homes and tables with representations of them… some of us even get waist-deep in the water and “scratch” for them!
Are all clams quahogs?
A true Cape Codder knows his or her clam 411, so here’s the deal. Quahogs (pronounced ko-hog) are hard shelled clams that can be seen in everything from chowder to a raw bar, depending on their size. They can get as big as your fist, and when they do, we often like to make stuffies (which is really more of a Rhode Island thing, but we’re all New England neighbors, right?).
When quahogs are small, they’re called littlenecks. When they are medium sized, they’re called cherrystones. They are all still quahogs!
But not all clams are quahogs. There are the very popular steamers, which have a soft shell (drawn butter, anyone?). There are surf or sea clams, too, which we usually find in chowder. But these live in deep ocean waters and are sought after by commercial clammers, not recreational shellfishers.
Fun fact: The scientific name for quahog – “mercenaria” – comes from Latin, meaning “wages.” Native Americans strung the shells like beads and used them as money or “wampum.” Photo: Indian Country Media Network
Celebrate clams at home
The right tools for decorating, cooking…and even scratchin’
If your going to prepare clams at home, you need the right tools. Fortunately, you don’t need much. We recommend a multi-purpose basket with an adjustable divider for different cooking uses (open, half, quarter or stacked), along with a great clam knife.
Get it at Snow’s: adjustable cooking/steaming basket – $34.99, OXO Good Grips clam knife – $8.99, traditional clam knives with wooden handle – sm. $12.99, lg. $14.99
If you want to get your own, almost every town on the Cape offers shellfishing permits for a surprisingly low annual fee. Capecod.com has a comprehensive listing here. Aside from the permit and a gauge, all you need is a rake and a regulation-size galvanized basket. This will hold up to a bushel, the haul you are allowed once per week.
Get it at Snow’s: clamming rake – $47.99, basket – $59.99
We love Scout. Every season, Scout creates a complete original collection of patterns for their signature bags, accessories, coolers and storage totes. This shellfish pattern is called “Sunny” – one of three color options that were given women’s names reminiscent of the beach: Sunny, Shelly, and Sandy. Available in the “Pleasure Chest” picnic cooler and the “Day Tripper” tote, both constructed with water-resistant coated cotton.
Get it at Snow’s: cooler – $27.99, tote – $36.99
Joseph Gallant watercolors
Cape Cod watercolorist Joseph Gallant is also a favorite around Snow’s. His pieces are all numbered and signed – and this expression of Joe’s “Marsh Kids” is a beautiful tribute to simpler times.
Get it at Snow’s: Joseph Gallant watercolor, framed – $59.99
Coasters are a great way to express yourself with sea life! We especially love these little clam finds.
Get it at Snow’s: “Happy as a clam” wooden coaster – $5.99 (can also be used as cute little sign!), watercolor quahog absorbent tile coaster – $5.99
If you’re inspired by all this clam talk to get in the kitchen and create some magic, we’ll leave you with our favorite recipe for linguine with clam sauce. A member of our Snow’s team went clamming a couple of weeks ago and made this for some friends – it was awesome!
And remember, its great to give – but it’s ok to be “shellfish,” too …especially on Cape Cod! 😉 We hope to see you at this year’s ClamBQ – Saturday at Eldredge Field in Orleans!