A CLAM BAKE
(Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book, 1884)
An impromptu clam bake may be had at any time at low tide along the coast where clams are found. If you wish to have genuine fun, and to know what an appetite one can have for the bivalves, make up a pleasant party and dig for the clams yourselves. A short thick dress, shade hat, rubber boots, — or, better still, no boots at all, if you can bring your mind to the comfort of bare feet, — a small garden trowel, a fork, and a basket, and you are ready.
Let those who are not digging gather a large pile of driftwood and seaweed, always to be found along the shore. Select a dozen or more large stones, and of them make a level floor; pile the driftwood upon them, and make a good brisk fire to heat the stones thoroughly.
When hot enough to crackle as you sprinkle water upon them, brush off the embers, letting them fall between the stones. Put a thin layer of seaweed on the hot stones, to keep the lower clams from burning.
Rinse the clams in salt water by plunging the basket which contains them in the briny pools near by.
Pile them over the hot stones, heaping them high in the centre.
Cover with a thick layer of seaweed, and a piece of old canvas, blanket, carpet, or dry leaves, to keep in the steam.
The time for baking will depend upon the size and quantity of the clams. Peep in occasionally at those around the edge. When the shells are open, the clams are done.
They are delicious eaten from the shell, with no other sauce than their own briny sweetness. Melted butter, pepper, and vinegar should be ready for those who wish them; then all may "fall to." Fingers must be used. A Rhode Islander would laugh at any one trying to use a knife and fork. Pull off the thin skin, take them by the black end, dip them in the prepared butter, and bite off close to the end. If you swallow them whole, they will not hurt you. At a genuine Rhode Island clam bake, blue-fish, lobsters, crabs, sweet potatoes, and ears of sweet corn in their gauzy husks are baked with the clams. The clam steam gives them a delicious flavor. Brown bread is served with the clams, and watermelon for dessert completes the feast.