Fried balls of chopped clams are popular northeastern pow wow fare.

Fried balls of chopped clams are popular northeastern pow wow fare.

Pow Chow and Chat

Dale Carson

As an early-bird craft vendor, I arrive at pow wows extra early to taste the assortment of foods like fresh-squeezed lemonade, kettle corn, burgers (buffalo, venison and game), chowders and stews, wild rice combos and wojapi, a thick berry dish. Sampling foods before and after setup is the highlight of pow wows, because it’s an opportunity to reunite with old friends, make new ones and see long lost acquaintances. We share stories and laugh—the very soul of our communities.

My favorite pow wow food is clam cakes; I grew up on them. As a child visiting family in New Bedford, Massachusetts, we always stopped on the way at a tiny little stand that sold only clam cakes. Six came in a paper bag. Salt, shake and eat. In New England, they are a pow wow classic, and people line up to get them.

Mix dry ingredients together and then add clams to make a thick batter. Heat about a half inch of corn oil or light vegetable oil in a cast-iron pan and drop batter by tablespoons when the oil is very hot. Do not walk away; it only takes a couple of minutes for them to brown. Turn them to cook all sides. Drain and sprinkle with a little more salt.

Clam Cakes
1 pint (2 cups) of minced and chopped clams with juice
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
Pinch each: salt, pepper, sugar

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American Cooking, Native New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with them and her husband in Madison, Connecticut.

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