Clammed Up

The Union Oyster House in Boston

Dear Révolutionnaires: I understand we are experiencing technical difficulties in some parts of the country. Please know that I am working on getting French Revolution back to normal. Until then, enjoy some clams!

The time has come, my little friends, to talk of many things; not shoes and ships and ceiling wax, nor cabbages and kings. But instead, of the little loves to whom that poem was addressed: the oysters…and, naturally, the clams.

This past weekend, I travelled to Boston. On the train, as we tore through the puddled green countryside, studded with rocking New England-white washed canoes, I made a promise to myself: I am going to eat lobster at every meal.

There are certain things in life that I love: lobster, for one, ropes of pearls, heaps of steaming mussels. Yes, they all come from the sea. But when it comes to that vaulted treasure of the Parisian bistro, the raw seafood platter, I must admit that I get a little clammy when I see the clams and oysters, floating like so many New England canoes within their shells, atop a sea of their own making.

So, when I paraded my friends into the Union Oyster House, the nation’s oldest restaurant, this past Saturday, I was confidently craving lobster, which sat naively waving their lantern-red antennas at me from their crowded watery cave. We had to wait, so I trotted over to the raw bar to see how the pros were shucking clams and oysters, thinking maybe I would get tips for a cooked dish I might try. Next thing I knew, I was sitting amongst the locals, who were packed like lobsters at the bar, with one of the shuckers topping off my raw clam with oyster crackers, Tabasco, and horseradish.

New England Clam Chowder!

The whole restaurant got involved; it was like the prizefights of decades ago. Who would win the rumble in my stomach? I couldn’t escape, so I did it. I gagged. Then I chewed. It was lovely; briny as the sea, hot as the sun. But I will say this; as for the oysters, I’ll stick with the crackers.

That wasn’t the only clam I tried that day; when I got to the chowder, I was happy as a clam. Maybe even happier, considering they’re the ones who got eaten!

And as for the lobsters, rest assured, I’d eaten everyone one.

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Categories: Boston, Restaurants, Voyages

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