04 June 2006

clam chowder

Childhood hypocrisies are the best hypocrisies, as they are shameless. One of my favourites was my attitude towards seafood. I abhorred it, believing it something to be avoided even at the risk of rudeness. When my mother wrote a seafood cookbook, I shunned her and ran screaming away when she wanted me try a new recipe she was testing. At the same time, my favourite soup was clam chowder, I would devour an order of fried clams with tartar sauce at the Hull Yacht Club and would proudly munch on whatever catch there was on the rare occasions I went fishing. I boasted that I loved eating shark (one of the few fish I would eat). The irony was lost on me as it would have been on any child. I didn't bother to reconcile the two things in my mind - that while uninterested in most seafood some of it pleased me. Or the greater truth, that if I'd bother to try seafood I would have liked it. But no, mediation and rationalising were beyond me and childhood prejudice has a strong grip.

These thoughts came to me as I had the best clam chowder ever last Wednesday lunch time. I was at B & G Oysters in South Boston. Now, clam chowder's a pretty homely, comfort-food affair, and there are probably a thousand restaurants throughout New England boasting the world's greatest, but this was different. It was so good I asked if the chef had a cookbook - I wanted the recipe. Richly textured but not too starchy, the potato chunks still firm, massive pancetta lardons and perfect whole clams with sauteed onions and garnished with fresh spring onion; pretty fancy for clam chowder. It was served after a few oysters on the half-shell and before a Maine lobster sandwich. I'd eaten lobster for dinner the night before. I love seafood. And I think I always loved seafood. For some reason though, I used to hate the idea of seafood. And as such hated all seafood.


Is this a pointless post? I don't know. But I'm not feeling so good, and the mind wanders at such times. Some would suggest chicken soup for such malaise, but I think I'd rather have the chowder.

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