Friday, December 21, 2007

West Coast Clams

Back in October I wrote about the succulent, golden fried clams that I enjoyed so much in Boston. I said that fried clams could not be found on the West Coast. I'm sorry to say that I lied. I was on my way to In N Out burger in Fisherman's Wharf on Wednesday when I smelled the strong, sharp, fishy scent that is associated with seafood. When I followed the scent to the row of sidewalk crab stands I was enchanted by the massive quantities of fried fish, golden-brown and yeasty bowls of sourdough filled with thick, creamy clam chowder, and crabs so fresh that they were still creeping and crawling around only minutes before being devoured by the loads of tourists who flock to the famous section of San Francisco. Then I saw it. "Clams and chips" was listed on a sign under fish and chips, and above fried calamari. I was ecstatic. I was finally going to get to compare the juicy, briny clams of New England with Californian clams. In N Out would have to wait for another day.

I was given a container of crispy curly fries that were topped with a mountain of small, crispy clams. I found myself a bench near the boats docked by the wharf, and I began munching on the popcorn-sized shellfish. They were crunchy and chewy, but they did not compare to the ones that I had had in Boston. These were littlenecks, they were small and chewy with very little belly. Personally, I enjoyed the salty burst of clam juice that would explode from the clams in Boston. These tiny clams that I tasted here were much milder. Because they had no large belly, they did not release any of the clammy juice that many people may consider too fishy. While I understood that these small, less fishy tasting clams are probably much more popular with the thousands of tourists that travel throughout Fisherman's Wharf each day, I was still disappointed. I guess my first impression was right; the fried clams out here just aren't the same.

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