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Friday, April 17, 2009

Kaimoana Part 2: The Gatherers

We've talked about the hunters; now, it's time to talk about the gatherers. Before we became part of this economic machine that processes all of our food into one convenient location, conveniently stripped of the bulk of its nutritional value in the name of - ironically - adding value, our ancestors used to raise crops, and hunt, and gather their food.
Every couple of years, when we're up in that part of the country, we like to carry on the traditions that our hapu have maintained for generations, and we trudge along the tidal flats with our buckets and our sunnies to gather kaimoana.
I'm not even going to raise the question of whether anyone thinks that digging shellfish from the sand is any less humane than stalking and shooting a wild deer (see my previous post), or if the ethics of farming mussels might impinge on the quality of the ones you can pull of the rocks in the wild.

Dang, I just raised it, didn't I? Strangely, I doubt that people feel anywhere near as strongly about something that can't actually run away...

Moving on, then. Everyone gets their feet wet. Everyone gets their hands dirty. Jandals float away and are chased after. Little kids sit in warm pools in the sun, which get inexplicably warmer...
A healthy haul of cockles makes its way into a bucket, and the weary gatherers slop back through the returning tide towards cars parked on the beach, while the kids run back and forth, gathering seashells.
Rule One when cooking up a big load of shellfish: Have a really good fire going, and make sure your water is really boiling and will keep boiling. Then the cockles will pop open, ready for eating, in just a few short minutes.
Serve up with garlic mayonnaise and a nice crisp white wine. We had ours with our big meal of fish and chips (campfire styles). It's pretty hard to beat shellfish taken straight from the sea the very same day.

Stay Tuned for Part 3; where I wrap it all together with salad and wine, and deal with the impossible task of cooking chips (fries) with neither a deep fryer nor a proper oven.

(And then, there will even be dessert)


Le laquet said...

Cockles are a local speciality in the part of Wales I'm from - love them anytime of the day BUT particularly good for Sunday breakfast with laverbread and thick cut bacon.

Jenni said...

Do you have any special secret ways of getting sand out of the pipis? I mean, I know there will be sand in them regardless, but I feel like there should be a way of making them less sandy.

Dan said...

Le Laquet: I've never had cockles for breakfast. Maybe I'll have to try that next time. What, exactly, is laverbread?

Jenni: Cockles don't tend to have very much sand in them at all. Pipis are awful for sand, but the easy trick with them is that you place them in a bucket full of cold fresh water for a couple of hours. They self-filter pretty much all of the sand out in that time, then you cook them much the same as you cook cockles.

Pipis are a bit chewier and a bit more stringy than cockles, which are usually plumper and have more flavour. It all depends on what's going wild at your particular beach.