An easy and pleasurable way to get an insight into the history and story of a group of people is to sample their signature dish. If you are visiting here, like shellfish, and want to know us better, you must make an effort to try our clam pie. For Bonackers, it’s our heritage captured in a pie shell. For those who don’t know, the term Bonacker refers to the descendants of original settlers to our area, mainly working-class people, a large percentage of whom still call the Springs home.According to Wikipedia, the term “Bonacker” is derived from “Accabonac” Harbor, which came from the Montaukett/Algonquian term for “place of ground nuts,” meaning potatoes. During the Great Depression, Bonackers may have been poor, but they still managed to feed their families a hardy meal by using two of our area’s most abundant food sources, clams and potatoes.
Generally made with chopped clams, potatoes, onions, spices, sometimes a little cream, the many versions of this pie evolved from recipes that were passed down from generation to generation. I’ve often seen people react with a wrinkling of their nose at the idea of a clam pie, but after giving it a try, they were quick converts. Truly, it’s the quintessential Bonac comfort dish. As mentioned, if you enjoy shellfish, you will love the clam pie.
Good news: The 81st annual Fisherman’s Fair set up on the grounds of our historic hub of Ashawagh Hall, the library, Blacksmith Shop, and the Springs Community Church, is around the corner, on Saturday, August 10, with its most popular of food booths, you guessed it, its famous clam pie!
“WE NEED CLAMS!” proclaims a poster outside the Springs General Store, which was hung up by the Springs Community Presbyterian Church chefs who took up the huge task of lovingly baking all of the fair’s pies from scratch two years ago. Like the old family recipes, the Fisherman Fair’s clam pie has evolved and undergone various incarnations until the general consensus was simply “yummy!”… Bonac perfection. Dru Raley, an active church member and one of their many talented chefs, explained that their version of clam pie ended up being a combination of about three different recipes, tweaked and tested many times, but most closely resembling the East End Clam Pie recipe that can easily be found on the internet. Her personal contribution was an added dash of Tabasco. Whatever the case, it’s a darn good pie!
From now until baking day, the chefs would be grateful for clam contributions, which can be dropped off at the church on Wednesdays from 1 to 6 p.m. or Sundays before or after regular worship hours that start at 8 a.m. (A special early outside service is offered through the summer months) and 10 a.m. It would be preferable to have them shucked and brought in plastic containers to freeze, but if you don’t shuck, they can take care of it themselves. So many people are in the full swing of clamming fever this time of year, and often have an excess. Contributing to our culinary tradition is a wonderful way to use our local bounty. To donate, call 324-4791 or 324-5951.
Ashawagh Hall presents two great art shows this week. First up is the second annual Mid-Week Show today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Featured are the works of six talented local artists, Cynthia Loewen, John Todaro, Jerry Schwabe, Sarah Jaffe Turnbull, Peter Spacek, and Lynn Martell. A reception will be held this evening from 5 to 9 p.m. It’s a perfect excuse to get out and mingle during the summer calm of mid-week!
Then from July 26 to 28, is the aptly titled show “Mother Nature as Muse” curated by local artist Mary Laspia. This show will bring together the talents of 11 Long Island artists showcasing works in various media inspired by natural elements in the environment. It’s a chance to take in exceptionally beautiful artwork from Mary Milne’s stunning works in glass and Pamela Topham’s tapestries prompted by the magnificence of the shore and wetlands to the arresting wildlife paintings of Anne Holton. The other both well-known and emerging participating artists are Bobbie Braun, Barbara Groot, Joan Kraisky, Anita Kusick, Bill Shillalies and, of course, Ms. Laspia. A reception will be held Saturday, July 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. Gallery hours are Friday 1 to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At The Fireplace Project located at 851 Springs-Fireplace Road this Sunday at 5 p.m. is the opportunity to hear the next lecture in the summer “Sundays at 5” series. Valerie Hellstein of the Phillips Collection will deliver an interesting lecture titled “Hanging Out at the Club: Rethinking Abstract Expressionism.” Admission is $5 at the door and members get in for free.
A lovely thing to do with the entire family is a visit to the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio located at 830 Springs-Fireplace Road. Summer hours for general admission with an audio guide are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. at a cost of $5 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted for free. One docent guided tour is available on those days at noon by appointment only for $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Call 631-324-4929 to reserve. Visit www.pkhouse.org for the detailed calendar events.
I hope that everyone is enjoying summertime in the Hamptons whatever your passions may be. I, for one, am happy that’s there is still plenty of time left to be inspired by the sheer glory of our natural surroundings while reaping the bounty of our rich clam beds. I can’t wait to try this year’s clam pie at The Fisherman’s Fair! Yum, yum … good week all!