New Englanders pride themselves on their hardy stoicism. They take what comes, they persevere, they endure. If you’re going to get along here, you never complain about the weather, the traffic, or the fish not biting.
I think this is why steamers, popular in this neck of the woods, never caught on anywhere else. No matter what you do, steamers always, always, always have sand in them. You can scrub them scrupulously. You can swish them til the cows come home. There will always be sand. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, but there’s always some.
It’s part of the experience, and it’s also a test. If you can’t stand a little sand in your clams, you don’t belong here.
Today, I harvested my first day lily shoots. Last spring, thanks to Euell “Try Anything” Gibbons, we discovered that they make excellent eating. We happened on a patch of them near the herring run in Dennis, and we brought home enough to make a side dish for the lamb ragout I was planning for dinner.
I washed them carefully. I did. I removed every speck of dirt I could see. I cut them up, I steamed them, I mixed in just a little butter. I ate one.
It was delicious, mild, a bit oniony, still with a little bite. But there was that crunch, crunch, crunch of grit. I thought maybe I just got a bad one, and I took another. Same thing.
Day lilies are built like leeks, and dirt can work itself farther down between the leaves than you ever thought possible. At least farther than I ever thought possible.
I ate a few, and Kevin ate a few, but we just couldn’t do it. The rest are going to the chickens, who have a use for grit in their food. Unless some real New Englanders would like them.