Soup Scene

Chowder by the Channel


What: Chowder by the Channel

When: 3 pm Sat., Nov. 4

Where: La Conner Middle School, 305 N. 6th St.

Cost: $8


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

I long for the days when I could crouch on the shores of the rocky beach in front of our family’s cabin on Lummi Island for hours on end, sticking my arms deep into the wet sand to feel around for the sneaky bivalves, and feeling a sense of victory when my hands would close around a razor or butter clam. Occasionally, we’d get ambitious and tunnel like mad in order to dig up an elusive giant geoduck or two.

When I and the rest of the crew—my two siblings, my parents, neighbor kids, visitors and assorted other island characters—had collected our limit and the tide had started to come back in, the kids would make sure the holes we’d dug with trowels were filled back in, while one or more of the adults would lug the clams in buckets full of saltwater up the winding path to the shade of the porch. Typically, we’d store the sea creatures there until the following day, giving them plenty of time to expel the grit from their necks.

I crouch as little as possible these days thanks to the assorted aches and pains of aging, but I’ve retained the memory of how the meals we made of those magical mollusks were second to none. Often, a giant salad and steamed clams served with melted butter, garlic and loaves of french bread was enough to get us through until morning. At the century-old table on the porch overlooking Hale Passage, we’d reach across each other for the pelecypods, stopping only when the bowls were empty and our bellies were full.

It was at this table that we also consumed a fair share of clam chowder. Although I’m sure some sort of recipe was followed, I seem to recall that the mix stuck to some edicts—cream and onions were always part of the equation—but basically used whatever we had in the cabin at the time, whether it was potatoes, corn, celery, chives, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, various herbs, etc. The important part was the fresh clams, and those we had.

I was reminded of these familial feasts recently when I read about the 16th annual “Chowder by the Channel” taking place Sat., Nov. 4 at La Conner Middle School. Attendees at the event can pay a nominal fee to sample various kinds of chowder made by seasoned chefs from more than a dozen area restaurants. Once they’ve picked a favorite, they deposit their ticket in a voting box, and the restaurant gives them a bowl to eat on site or take home. Funds raised at the event go to Kiwanis projects that help the children of La Conner, making the event much more than a tasty time.

Best of all, no crouching is required, and a good time is guaranteed.

Cash Spell
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