Week 34: (Ryan, Guest Writer): The Bearded Quahog

Week 34: (Ryan, Guest Writer): The Bearded Quahog

Things I learned while visiting Michelle’s family in Cape Cod this week:

-          The letter “O” is pronounced as an “AW.” Example: Cape Cawd

-          Words that end with an “A” occasionally acquire an R. Example: Tamper

-          Oaks Bluff, Martha’s Vineyard is for black people.  The rare breeds that swim,

enunciate clearly and ride appropriately sized bikes.

-          The shellfish I’ve always known to be a clam, is actually a quahog.

-          Fried clam strips are delicious but they cheat you out of the whole belly.

-          The beach is for laying out, not swimming. It’s too cold.

-          Provincetown makes Gaybor look straight.

Michelle’s family lives in Falmouth, located in the armpit of the Cape Cod arm. Cape Cod itself is not a town; Falmouth is one of the many towns in Cape Cod. Her dad picked us up at Logan airport Friday night, with the top down in his Saab convertible. He proclaimed it was a beautiful night, to which I could not disagree. However, the fact that we left Tampa three hours earlier where the heat index was 106 degrees, the 66 degree breeze had me looking for flakes of snow.

We weren’t the only ones in need of a ride that night. Michelle’s brother Chris had friends in town and they were bombed.  Shortly after arriving at the Cape house, Michelle’s mother, Denise, donned her chauffeur cap and was out the door.  Hurricane Chris blew into the house with a 20ft squeegee he stole from the bar parking lot to use as a joust alongside the aforementioned Saab.  My dad was a man of few words and although he rarely told me he was proud of me, he didn’t have to.  I could see it in his eyes.  That was not the look I saw in Denise’s eyes that night.

I’m here for two reasons:  The infamous Falmouth Road Race and Denise’s famous stuffed quahogs.  I’ve been hearing about these things since the day I met Michelle and I am excited!  I assumed my responsibilities in these activities included running and eating which happen to be my two favorite hobbies.   Little did I know, I’d actually been recruited for harvesting.

I’ve never been much of a hunter or a fisherman but I’m not ignorant.  I know that food doesn’t actually come from the grocery store.  Growing up on a dairy farm in eastern NC, I learned at a very young age that steaks and hamburger came from the cows that I considered pets.  Quahogging is more hunting than fishing but probably most accurately described as gathering.  They live in the muck.  It’s absolutely disgusting work involving a rake, a floating basket, shallow brackish water, four feet of muck and hazards like spider crabs and eels.  No one told me about the eels.  If Falmouth had a home depot, I’d suggest picking up a crew of illegal illegals for this job.

The bearded clam is an extinct species that lived off the coast of Britain.  Its beard was prized for making beer.  It wasn’t until after its extinction that brew masters began using hops making the beer we are familiar with today.  Diving and digging through the muck of a Cape Cod inlet, I discovered a new breed.  Michelle emerged from the murky abyss with a fresh coat of muck clinging to her body hair. A fine black line ran across her lip, down her chin and continued to her naval. Disgusting…  In addition to Meatball, Michelle’s new nickname is The Bearded Quahog.

This week’s Sunday Meatball Chronicle involves neither brunch nor a restaurant but it’s Sunday so game on. It’s the 39th running of the Mother Fuckin Falmouth Road Race!  In 1973 a few guys ran the 7.3 mile stretch from a bar in Woods Hole to another bar in East Falmouth.  Over 11,000 ran this year and I finished 1074th place which is okay I suppose but there is plenty of room for improvement.  It’s a money race so it attracts elite runners from around the world.  This year’s winner came from Kenya and he finished the route in 31:37. DISGUSTING! In good pompous American fashion, Falmouth awards the fastest overall runners and then the top American finishers.  There were no personal records for any of us but it didn’t stop us from celebrating.

The Boyd family post-race party is as important of a tradition and nearly as epic as the race.  Seventy-two degrees, light humidity, tables full of food, a wine barrel stuffed with ice and beer, a hammock and new friends make for an amazing day.  Truth be told, I don’t like running but I love that it enables me to eat and drink to my hearts content, guilt-free.  The spread was amazing and it began with the spoils of the previous day’s haul: stuffed quahogs.  We feasted on marinated and grilled steak, cheeseburgers, red sweet/spicy Chinese sausage, lasagna, grilled chicken breasts and army of creamy salads and sides.  I’m a fan of “drive-by grazing.”  Drive-by grazing is a great tactic for sampling throughout the day without showing everyone how many plates you’ve used.

The rain held off, the beer stayed cold, the stories embellished and we all got sloppy.  The 2nd generation of runners/partiers transferred the party from the backyard to a boat at a nearby dock.  I’d love to tell you about the rest of the night but even after a review of the pictures, I’m still in the dark.  Let’s just say it included pu pu platters for 16, scorpion bowls, dancing with chicken wings, and a Glock. End of story.


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  1. By Get your Happy Ending at The Wharf on August 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    [...] in Massachusetts.  Legend suggests that these soft shelled relatives to their harder cousin, the quahog were first harvested from the mud flat, battered and fried in lard by local restaurateur, Lawrence [...]

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