People from outside New England see the word 'quahog' and pronounce it "Kwa-hog'. This is how we know who is an outsider and who isn't. "The Family Guy" has helped many people to realize that the proper pronunciation is "Co-hog", as the show is set in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island. But what is it?
Quahogs are a specific kind of clam. Most everyone in this area has been quahogging at some point in their lives. My dad took me a couple times when I was little. It was one of his fave things to do, to don his hip waders, grab his quahog bucket and rake, and head out to the shellfishing grounds all over the Upper Cape, best harvested from the sandbars at low tide. Mom and I would eagerly await his arrival home because that meant stuffed quahogs later that day!!!!
How does one find these buried clams without spending hours of fruitless digging? You look for little holes in the sand, which means there's a clam underneath using the hole to breathe. I remember one time my dad was digging for them on a huge sand bar and I was walking around, poking holes in the sand with a stick, as a joke. He did not think it was at all amusing. Come to think of it that was the last time I was invited....lol
The local Native Americans made wampum from the purple part of the shells, which is what they used as currency. I can't stop myself from picking up the shards of deep purple shells that litter the beaches here.
Every child thinks their parents make the best stuffed quahogs, and I am no different. My dad's looked like these except he garnished the top with a small piece of bacon before putting it in the oven to bake. I couldn't WAIT for them to come out. He'd caution me, "Watch out! Those shells are extremely hot!", but being a kid I'd still end up with a couple burned fingertips from grabbing at them. I'll have to see if my mom remembers dad's recipe. All I know is that the clam is chopped really fine and mixed with bread crumbs and spices, and then is served with melted butter.Who knows, maybe I'll send the squeeze out to dig for some this summer and make them myself!!