Foraging for cockles // A Simple Lunch
Cockles, whelks, winkles and the like seem to have a bad old rep next to the scallop, oyster and other such illustrious shelly company. It's a cultural mileu I can't get my head around, and am all up for bucking.
In my mind cockling can be found in the phrase dictionary under 'the most simple of pleasures,' as these guys are not only a blast to find but truly, and simply, tasty.
From down here in my corner of Dorset May Day is even more than the glorious posies on the door tradition (head to Little Green Shed to learn more about that) as from today we can officially cockle for our supper from the low tides of Poole Harbour.
Rolling up the trousers, grabbing a big spoon and taking a big breath of the salty air is always step one of this favourite wild pastime. When the tides are low, heading out and gently digging (scraping away just an inch of sand with your spoon) will have you uncover your tasty morsels as quick as you like; within fifteen minutes I'll usually find enough to feed myself and a friend or two.
It's always important to be competitive when it comes to cockling mind. A tradition in my family (along with the official family cockling spoon) is the fight for the coveted title of 'King Cock' to be had for the biggest catch of the day...
Just give your foraged finds a swill in some fresh water before simply boiling em' up, waiting just a couple of minutes for the cockles shells to open and the sign then that they are good to go. A hunk of bread, butter, some lemon and salt and you've got yourself a slice of beachy bliss.
*Cockling byelaws (rules over size and cockling tools) for my patch of England can be found here, but make sure you check our the rules where you are to forage for your cockles responsibly