During most of my young life, my mother struggled to get me to eat fish. She was convinced that lack of fish could somehow lead a child down the dangerous path of stunted development. When she was young in East Germany, she was taught that oily fish was the key to health, and she was forced to eat large volumes of canned sardines. Those childhood lessons taught her to love fish. The opposite happened to me.
At our once weekly fish dinners, she would do anything to convince me that I had to eat the fish on the plate, often resorting to scare tactics. We would sit across the table from each other in a staring contest, me with arms crossed, lips forced into an evil upside-down smirk, eyes narrowed. After five minutes of silence, she would throw a pearl of wisdom my way, like: “FINE, I hope you like losing all of your hair. Because that is what will happen if you don’t eat that fish”
The arguments continued. I was relentless as a child.
As I now realize, I was an also an idiot. I grew up in New England, and I was fortunate enough to spend my summers on Cape Cod. I think not eating fish on Cape Cod could be a felony. As a child I found myself committing that crime constantly.
Spoiled rotten little punk that I was, I absolutely hated our seafood dinners and often took covert action to prevent the seafood from ending up on the dinner table. I especially hated lobster night because I saw it as barbaric. Without my family noticing, I once took live lobsters out of the fridge, brought them to the beach, and let them go. I was about six years of age, not the sharpest tool in the shed, and it was approximately ten years later that I came to the realization that my well-intentioned act of kindness was quite the opposite… as the lobsters were, in fact, still banded. I still have visions of sad little lobsters wandering the ocean floor, rubber bands around their claws, or a fisherman pulling out a lobster trap only to find the work had already been done for him.
Not my finest hour.
I am happy to report that I have grown up. I now realize how wonderful it is to enjoy fresh seafood at the Cape. At least one or two weekends a summer, we go to the town of Sandwich, and we made sure to take advantage of any opportunity to eat good seafood.
Sandwich is the location of the only rocky intertidal zone on the Cape. That means a lot of rocks and cold water, something beachgoers don’t always love. I feel quite differently. I love the beaches in Sandwich. I think it is pretty fun to exploring exposed tide pools filled with funky looking invertebrates. But then again, I am a science geek.
Steamers are a New England tradition. Every time we come to Sandwich, we are lucky to be able to stay on the bay in a house with a full kitchen, courtesy of my family. We cook up massive stacks of these fresh clams, which we dip in clarified butter (and sometimes hot sauce) and pop in our mouths, one after the other.
It is not often that I am quiet at the dinner table. When I eat steamed clams, munching away with the ocean in front of me, I tend to fall silent.
This year’s trip was no exception. We steamed several pounds of clams in a family heirloom; a giant cauldron-like seafood steamer that my mother has held on to for over 30 years. We also grilled fresh fish that I prepared with diced fresh chiles, lime and olive oil. My German Mamma-Bear should be so proud of all of these Omega-3’s.
A seafood dinner, an ocean view, and time to relax. Minimal work with maximum reward. Let’s face it, I am still spoiled rotten.