There's a place in Narraganset Bay, twenty feet off the low-tide shoreline where the rocky bottom of the ocean gives way to soft sand. Little Neck Clams live there, and grow and multiply, and are always there, waiting for somebody to liberate them from their underwater world, and eat them. The circle of life is allowed to continue then, as those little delights encased in hard shells go on to their next adventure, and the body who consumed them gains strength and power from the sacrifice of those gifts from the sea.
I know this place. A long, winding road leads downward from civilization, pavement giving way to a dirt road, then a footpath and eventually barely distinguishable openings in the overgrowth made by wild animals who prowl the land. Legend says an Albino lives in these woods, and survives with nothing more than the food and shelter provided to him by nature. He doesn't like company, so my journey through these woods is swift, and only until the outline of a burned out castle appears at the waters edge do I feel safe. The Albino cannot leave the shade, you see, so I can dig for clams until sunset, or high tide. Or four o'clock, when I have to get ready for work.
It's my turn to cook. Here's what I've got:
A bucket of freshly dug Little Neck Clams
Vat of Olive Oil
A bunch of parsley
A Garlic bulb
A big onion
Two bottles of Snow's clam juice
A pound of fresh chopped clams
Two 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes
A little dry white wine
Three one pound boxes of linguini
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper. oregano, garlic powder, onion salt and maybe some basil
Thee loaves Italian Bread (from a bakery, not a grocery store!)
A quick prayer to the Rescue Gods and thanks to the Albino and I'm ready to get cooking!
First, start the water boiling, three gallons and three glugs of Olive Oil (a gallon can of Olive Oil makes a "glug" sound when tipped) and a couple seconds of salt from the Morton container. (when it rains, it pours!)
Have your slaves chop the parsley, dice the onions and peel and chop the garlic. If you see one of the slaves struggling with the garlic, show him how to do it, separate each clove from the bulb, using the blade of a chef's knife crush the bulb, which removes the good part from the peel, chop off the ends and move to the next one. Then chop it all up.
Meticulously scrub the outside shells of the littlenecks with a vegetable brush and rinse under cold water. Get a sturdy stock pot onto the stove, two glugs of olive oil in the bottom, when that's hot dump the onions in, after a minute add the chopped garlic. A minute or so later, add the white wine and let that simmer for a while. Dump the parsley in now. Open the cans of tomatoes and bottles of clam juice while the onions and garlic are cooking. Add them when the onions are translucent, and bring that all just about boiling.
Get a little pan and melt some butter. Cut two of the Italian loaves in half the long way, and one in slices. Put half of the sliced loaf on one table, the other half on the other, put some sticks of butter next to them with a butter knife and announce:
"The sacrificial bread is on the table!"
Hopefully by now the giant pot of water is boiling-don't watch it, if you do it never will!
Now, you can add the meticulously scrubbed fresh little necks to the sauce, along with the salt, pepper, hot pepper and maybe basil. Cover it up and let it simmer on medium heat.
Drop the three pounds of linguini into the boiling water, stirring as constantly as you can. Peek into the sauce pot now and then, when the clams open, and only when they do, add the fresh chopped clams, lower the heat to low simmer and cover it again.
Brush the butter onto the halved loaves, add garlic powder. onion salt and paprika, and stick them under the preheated broiler.
The linguini should be done, a little under is better than a little over. Take a fork and grab a strand to test it, when it's done how you like, it's done. Pour the linguini into a strainer and rinse with HOT water, then return it to the pan you cooked it in. Take a looksee into the sauce pan.
If the Rescue Gods were kind, and The Albino was not offended, the little necks will have opened, adding their sweet juice to the sauce, the fresh clams will be cooked, but not rubbery, the seasonings will have blended perfectly, the sacrificial loaves will have kept the wolves out of your way and you won't forget the garlic bread!
Take a ladle and skim some juice off the top of the sauce, add it to the linguini and toss it around. Now, you have a choice, make twelve individual plates, and garnish with the little necks, or pour the sauce on top of the linguini, mix it a little, say the magic words, "ALL HOT" and let them fend for themselves.