Mmmm — raw whelks skating on ice, looking a little like the Ice Capades
NYC diners have been increasingly exposed to new kinds of seafood they’ve never seen before. You can take the cynical view, and say this is because the world’s oceans are increasingly depleted, and these creatures are all that’s left.
Raw, and pulled from its shell, it might be baby Alien.
But, c’mon, be optimistic. Our fascination with new types of food has led us to sample all sorts of things we’d have never have touched 20 or even 10 years ago. Maybe we’re becoming French, or maybe Japanese.
We’re finally copping to the sea’s entire bounty: barnacles at Tertulia, jellyfish at Chinese restaurants. Now Bowery Diner — which only claims to be a diner — is serving us whelks. Sounds like the name of a gentleman’s fraternal order, right? Like the Masons or the Elks. Come with me now and join the Fraternal Order of Whelks.
The whelk is a marine gastropod (meaning possessing a foot that eats) commonly called a sea snail. It scavenges along the bottom of the ocean. At newly opened Bowery Diner, you can confront them raw on ice, still in their lovely curling shells, or you can have them the way the French serve land snails (escargot), in garlic butter, mopping up the remaining savory butter with your bread.
Either way, it’s a brilliant dish, and you should try it immediately
Cooked whelks with garlic butter
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 20, 2012