Virginia Barton

26 October 2013: Aw shucks…


26 October 2013


Just when I thought we had wrung every last drop from the chowder theme, crash bang wallop someone sent me a recipe from the New York Times. Gobsmacked is a vulgarism unfitting to an elderly lady’s lips, but I am. I thought we had a “special relationship” with our chums over the ocean, but it seems we don’t even speak the same language.

Obviously my chowder is ridiculous and I must go back to cookie school.




This recipe, from San Francisco, calls for:

Clams, 48 of them no less, Littleneck or Manila whatever they may be. These one has to “shuck” — what can that be I wonder? Peel? Surely not suck? Then shock horror, BACON of all things! And items called scallions and skillet.

Adding bacon is particularly distressing as my chowder is ear-marked as a Friday dish — which is a bit of a cheat as it’s so delish and hardly qualifies as fasting, merely abstinence.

I will gloss over the olive oil, spinach and dill. No white wine — fair enough, and no milk — lemon zested creme fraiche instead.

This multiplicity of flavours has quite undone me. I am going to throw in the apron and re-name my chowder Fishbits Soup.


Apart from a stopover in Anchorage years ago when you weren’t allowed to pollute Soviet airspace, I have never been to the USA. Before I do so, I must widen my winks and learn a new vocab. Preferably with illustrations.

How do they make Eccles cakes in Alabama I wonder?






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