Whylah Falls Clam Chowder

This afternoon, she thawed a pound of cod filets, white flesh raw but succulent on the plate, and diced it into one-inch squares. Then she sautéed a half cup of sliced onions in rich, yellow butter and poured the sizzling aroma into a broth made from celery soup, a cup of water, and a cup of milk. Next, she stirred the mix and added the fish, Jarvis scallops, and Church Point clams, nursing the chowder to a boil. Cora simmered it for seven minutes, then sprinkled the smiling sea with chopped parsley. Voilà! Perfection under gravity …

Whylah Falls, George Elliott Clarke

Recipe Notes (By Alexia Moyer)

This morning, Alexia went to her local fishmonger and paid 15 Euros for scallops. Yikes.

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Once back at her apartment, she removed the cod filets from her tiny refrigerator and “diced the flesh into one-inch squares.”

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“Then she sautéed a half cup of sliced onions in rich, yellow butter and poured the sizzling aroma into a broth made from celery soup, a cup of water, and a cup of milk.”

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Here’s where the story deviates from Clarke’s text. Realizing she had forgotten to pick up clams, Alexia put everything back into the tiny refrigerator and took a bus across town (with baby in carrier) to the major grocery store chain. With the little bag of clams stuffed into her purse and baby still in carrier, she returned home, placed the clams in water (to remove the sand).

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She repeated this step a number of times – somewhere in between readings of Pomelo est Amoureux and Martine Fait la Cuisine and a trip to the mailbox with baby and baby’s somewhat unwieldy collection of stuffed animals. The usual suspects pictured below.

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Next, Alexia (not baby) “stirred the mix and added the fish, [] scallops, and [] clams, nursing the chowder to a boil.”

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“[She] simmered it for [an untold number of] minutes, then sprinkled the smiling sea with chopped parsley. Voilà! Perfection under gravity …”

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Not quite. Those little clams were not ready to give up their sand until they reached the milky broth. The soup looks delicious and, under Cora’s direction would have tasted so. But alas, ’twas gritty. The highlight of the meal was a shaved fennel salad and a handful of leftover Easter eggs. Be wary of sandy clams.

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Clarke, George Elliott. Whylah Falls. Tenth Anniversary Edition. Vancouver: Polestar Book Publishers, 2000. p.36.

Photo Credit: Alexia Moyer

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