Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Finger Lickin' Good!

For more opportunities to read about New England doings, go here.

Summertime…..4th of July parades, fireworks, picnics, and New England Clambakes. Last weekend Paul and I joined a group of extended family at a good old-fashioned clambake in his hometown.



There were over 750 people (not all relatives!) together for a traditional outing held every August. I took pictures of the ‘bake’ as it’s called for those of you who don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about.

Here’s a picture of the bake when it's just about ready to be uncovered and served. Usually there’s a Bakemaster in charge. He's helped throughout the day by a couple dozen people. A multi-stage process, everything has to be done right or you've got a very expensive disaster and lots of unhappy people.


What you’re looking at is a concrete pad where early in the day they layed down a layer of round stones. You can dig a pit in the sand if you have the room but this is an established location for clambakes. Over the stones they spread a layer of logs which they burn down until they get the stones red hot so they can be used to radiate heat during the cooking process. At the right time, they pull the logs off and cover the stones with a thick layer of seaweed which was probably brought in that morning and soaked with seawater.





Over the seaweed are layers of wooden baskets filled with the ingredients of the bake: sweet potatoes, white potatoes, peeled onions, bags of seasoned white fish, hot dogs, bock wurst, chourico & linquica (Portuguese-style sausage), stuffing, fresh corn on the cob still in the husks and soft-shell clams or what we call steamers.





Then the entire mound is covered with canvas that has been drenched in sea water to seal in the heat and prevent the canvas from burning. The food is allowed to steam for several hours. It takes an experienced Bakemaster to get all the combinations of food, heat, seaweed & timing just right. For a bake this size you’re talking thousands of dollars worth of food and it’s not something you can stick back in the oven or back on the grill if it’s not quite done.

Here's last weekend's bake being uncovered.






The food is served right from the baskets and we dig in!







As you can see this is 'finger food' and the clean up can get messy........

....so I never travel to a clambake without my trusty Wet Ones.


18 comments:

The Stylish House said...

Sandy,
Wow, these are great photos. My parents are from Maine so I grew up with lobster feasts!
Enjoy, Cathy

Pam said...

Looks good! I haven't been to a clambake in years. We do clamboils in our backyard pretty much every summer, but a bake is a whole 'nother experience. Maybe next year.

Badass Geek said...

A lot of work? Yes. But from what I've heard, it's rewarding.

I'm not a fan of seafood myself, but I would definitely enjoy the rest of it.

carolyn said...

What a great time we all had. I can smell the steam as the tarps were being taken off. Did I hear you say you are making a bake this Sunday??? I'll be there!

kaye said...

that was a very interesting post, the only time I ate shell fish I threw up afterwards for about 5 hours.

Kathy B! said...

I've never been to a clam bake. Good to know about the Wet Ones!!

Just Breathe said...

That is so awesome, looks like fun.
I didn't know how they cooked it, that is cool. Thanks for the pictures.

mama-face said...

No way! I thought I knew what a clam bake was. I was wrong. I bet the food was delicious. One of the pictures does resemble a landfill. A tasty landfill that is.

:)

Laoch of Chicago said...

I am so suggestible. MUST HAVE SEAFOOD NOW!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Incredible. I've never seen anything like that. What fun. And steamers? I can eat five pounds all by myself. Love 'em.

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

This is the first time I've seen or heard of such a thing. It looks fantastic!

Tania (via SITS)

Shauna said...

What fun! I've never seen this before! That was a lot of food!

BONNIE K said...

This is quite amazing. I have never seen anything like this. And the food looked wonderful.

Bethany said...

YUM! I was born in Maine but I don't know if I've ever been to a clam bake. If I have, I don't remember it!

Brittany said...

YUM!!!
I have never been to a clambake, but we have killer shrimp/crawfish boils down here!

I am with you on the Wet Wipes.
My dad will even go so far as to use GLOVES! Seriously! Now, that, is dorky (even for me)!

The Redhead Riter said...

Yum. Looks like a great time!

I love your blog!!!

Elizabeth said...

I love a good clambake; never seen one this large!
Could you put in a link to the Linky post to send your readers over to other posts by NEB? http://ebogie.blogspot.com/2010/01/happy-birthday-new-england-bloggers.html

Tinky said...

I've NEVER been to one of these; thanks for sharing this great experience. Maybe next summer. Meanwhile, happy anniversary to us all.....

 

Blog Design By Lindsey Joy Design © All Rights Reserved.