Boil them, after first washing the shells well to free them from sand and mud, then fry them for a few minutes in a frying-pan, with a little butter or lard, adding pepper and salt according to taste. Fry some parsley quite crisp, and serve round the dish.
Venus Gallina may be mentioned as an edible species also, and is very common everywhere on our coasts, where there is sand, but although it is not used as food with us, it is much eaten in some parts of Italy by the poorer classes; and the name for it at Venice is Bibarazza. In Spain, too, it is eaten, and at Mahon is called Escupina Maltesa.
Before leaving the Venus tribe of shells, I must call attention to an American species, which is now becoming an object of interest to the shellfish growers in this country, viz., Venus mercenaria. The experiment to acclimatize it on the French coast has already been tried by M. de Broca, M. Coste, and the Count de Férussac. Breeding-beds were prepared on the coast at Arcachon and Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue, and in 1861 the steward of the 'Arago' steamer brought over about 200 hard clams, and also some American oysters, which were deposited in these beds under the superintendence of M. Coste.* In 1863 another supply of live clams was brought over, but Dr. Paul Fischer stated, in 1865, that though the mollusks seemed perfectly healthy, they did not appear to have spawned, as no young specimens could be found. Mr. F. G. Moore, Curator of the Liverpool Museum, describes (in a paper given to Professor Brown Goode, and quoted at one of the Conferences held at the International Fisheries Exhibition,) the successful introduction of the hard clam, or quahog, into the waters of St. George's Channel.
* 'Moluscos Marinos de Espana, Portugal y las Baleares,' por J. G. Hidalgo.
Venus mercenaria is very largely consumed in America. The New York supply comes chiefly from Long Island. The prices for them are as follows : 20 cents per dozen, and 75 cents to 1 dollar per 100. Like oysters, they bear long journeys well, and can be preserved alive for some time by being kept wet and cool. The shell is very thick, covered with a drab-coloured epidermis, and much resembles, in form, our Cyprina islandica, but it is more triangular. Inside, the valves at one end are of a rich purple colour, the portion used for making the 'Wampum, as we shall read further on.
* 'Utilization of Minute Life,' by Dr. T. L. Phipson.
The following recipes for cooking clams, are from America, and will no doubt be acceptable; especially if the experiment of acclimatizing these shellfish on our shores should prove successful.