We hope to entice you out of your shell today and help us celebrate the food holiday for November 1st. It’s National Deep Fried Clams Day!
And also National Vinegar Day. No offense to this tangy, acidic, fermented liquid, but we’d rather honor a food that takes a starring role, rather than an ingredient that lends flavor to a dish. Clams it is! I only wish we were in Seattle today; they’ve got a great local chain called Ivar’s that specializes in fried clams. We’re going to be up there in a week, but our food challenge won’t allow us to take a rain check. Boo.
Fried clams are a quintessential seaside meal typically found in restaurants along the coast. They are especially popular in New England, but even out here in Washington and Oregon they’re easy to find if you’re spending a day at the beach. They date back to at least 1865, where they appeared on a menu at the Parker House restaurant in Boston. This place was mentioned not too long ago; it’s where Boston Cream Pie originated. It’s unclear whether they were deep fried or batter dipped, but either way, I’m sure they were delicious. Modern deep fried clams are said to have been the brainchild of Lawrence Henry “Chubby” Woodman, who owned a small roadside restaurant in Essex, Massachusetts. Woodman specialized in homemade potato chips. One day he dug up a bunch of clams from the mud flats near his home and fried them up using the large vats of oil normally reserved for his chips. Customers ate these up – literally. Another Massachusettan (Massachutan? Massa…whatever you’d call somebody from Massachusetts!) named Thomas Soffron created clam strips from the “foot” of sea clams and sold them exclusively to Howard Johnson’s restaurants. As that chain grew, clam strips became popular throughout the country.
To celebrate, we tried a bar and grill in Portland called Holman’s. A yelp search revealed they are known for their fried clams, and sure enough, the basket we split as an appetizer was scrumptious. Crispy, slightly chewy, and fresh-tasting. We enjoyed them!
- The Battle of Essex Fried Clams – Woodman’s versus Farnham’s (billives.typepad.com)
- A few good clams…a lesson on prejudice (tempestuouswaitress.wordpress.com)