Norbury’s Landing (beach), Cape May NJ

Norbury’s Landing (beach), Cape May NJ

triggers: the raw bar

triggers: the raw bar

there are different memories of mine of the jersey shore, the real one, not what you saw on TV, wildwood crest when I was a child (boardwalk with rides and games) and then later on Cape May, I never recoiled, as early as I can recall, at the raw seafood bar (specifically talking about The Lobster House), it took me a while to get used to oysters however, but clams? I suppose we were meant to be, I suppose texturally they are similar to oysters but not for me, I like the chewability of them, yes, I like to chew them, big ole cherrystones on the half shell raw, I notice many people kind of slurp them down quickly, only getting a bit of the ocean flavor doused in cocktail sauce, kind of powering through them like shots of liquor, I want more than that flash, I want to know where they are from to savor the flavor, for a moment more at least, this particular raw bar, was my first, and to which all others have always been compared, maybe the location has something to do with it, my home state, the vacation memories with my folks and now my own-some, all these years, the same, you order them up, they schuck them up, nothing fancy, a big plate of ice, a wedge of lemon, a container of cocktail sauce, no crackers (sorry Maryland), a dollar store child’s size plastic fork, and that all adds up to perfection, with social distancing in order, I had to take my order down the dock, literally the raw bar’s backdrop is the dock where the commercial fishing boats come in to deliver their catch, you sit in their shadows and can almost listen to their histories creaking in the hulls, certainly smell the fresh ocean and a bit of oil, seating is equally simple, tables made out of those rope storage spools painted over too many times to count, surrounded by the ubiquitous plastic white chairs, even in covid times there is comfort there in this setting, while not bustling it was busier than I might have thought, the every other minute decades old sounding announcement system bleating out about orders ready at the takeout window, “ticket 1916, ticket 1916, ready @ the takeout window”, but I concentrate on my plate, a glistening fresh 2 dozen, I could eat 100, or more, probably, I try to remind myself to slow down, take a sip of amstel in-between, but damn they are so good, all those memories triggered in a bite flood my entirety, the burst of sea water, a tinge of cocktail sauce, the meaty texture of the clam bellies, everything I remember, surely would be a disappointment if it were not, but my entire life, this one spot, nothing seems to change even in a pandemic year, and in a way, it calms my soul, letting me know everything will be just fine, at least for now, with a simple plate of clams, well, now… they are … gone.
(side note “the raw bar” would make a great strip club name, just saying)