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)