There are mysteries about Manhattan that puzzle the Accidental Locavore and several of them have to do with seafood. Why, for example, in a city where there is cuisine from almost every country in the world, is it almost impossible to find an acceptable fried clam? Was it in the spirit of PT Barnum (“a sucker born every minute”) that someone decided that clam strips — the most inedible part of the clam — would be an acceptable fried food? As any New Englander (or anyone with taste buds) would tell you, the belly is the best part of a clam. Which is why the fried clams you get anywhere north of New York are far superior to anything found in the Big Apple.
The other mystery concerns one of the trendy foods of the moment — lobster rolls. A lobster roll is a fine thing to do with a lobster, if you, like my husband, are not inclined to mess with a whole lobster (however, there’s something really satisfying about working through a lobster and plopping it in melted butter). Lobster rolls certainly beat other permutations like lobster mac and cheese or lobster chop suey (can lobster macaroons be far behind?). However, it’s something that shouldn’t be messed with and adding caviar or vanilla is just plain wrong — ditto serving it in anything other than a buttered and toasted spilt-top hot dog roll.
What about its cousin, the crabmeat roll? Something never seen on a New York menu (when I did a Google search for it, only sushi came up). Possibly, it’s a labor thing — it’s a lot easier to break up a lobster (claws, tail, possibly a little body meat) and it comes in a bigger package. Crabs, especially the Maine varieties, are a lot smaller and harder to “pick.” But what you’re left with — the fine strands of crabmeat, tossed with just enough mayonnaise to hold it together, on a hamburger roll, lightly toasted on a grill until it just loses its chill — is about as good as a sandwich can get. Add some hot fries, a cold iced tea, a view of the ocean and you have my idea of the perfect summer lunch.