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Clam digging on the Pacific Coast

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British Columbia
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Lesley Hebert

Clam digging on the Pacific Coast
I have fond memories of visiting relatives in Qualicum Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island and going clamming with them. This was such a fun way to get the very freshest seafood  then taking it home and cooking it the same day. I was actually amazed at how simple the whole procedure was. The best beaches for clamming are sandy, unpolluted, far away from industrial or residential areas, and well supplied with seagulls. Qualicum Beach was, of course, perfect. Clams are dug just above the water line at low tide, so we planned to to get to the beach about  half an hour before low tide. We wore waterproof boots, and took along a long handled shovel and a large plastic (not metal) bucket. When we got to the beach we had to look for seagulls gathering because gulls know where the clams are. If clams sense vibrations above them, such as footsteps, they dig down into the sand, causing a squirt of water to come up to the surface. So as we walked towards the gulls we watch for the telltale squirts of escaping butter clams. As soon as we saw a squirt we dug like crazy, grabbed the clam  and put it in our bucket. If we found we were digging a hole deeper than about a foot we decided we had lost our clam and gave up. We looked for another clam sign and tried again.  When we had enough clams in our bucket we rinsed them off in the ocean and filled the bucket with fresh seawater to keep the clams happy until we got home. When we got home took the clams out of the bucket  and let the sand settle out of the seawater for about 20 minutes.. Once the seawater settled we poured the water off into another container, leaving and soaked the clams for an hour while we enjoyed a drink. Then we simply steamed the clams in the shells and drizzled them with butter. They were awesome. However, there are a lot of tempting clam receipes available on the internet. To read more about clamming and how to make delicious clam chowder, go here: http://www.infobarrel.com/Clam_Digging_for_Dummies
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