This recipe comes from my hometown of Clinton, Indiana. As you can see by the title picture my town is very proud of its Italian heritage. I myself am a quarter Italian as is almost everyone else that grew up there. Every year they hold a Little Italy Festival on Labor Day weekend. I sadly can’t go this year so I’m happy to be writing about it. It’s happening in a week so if you are in Indiana you should go.
As a kid I would get so excited every year for the festival because I was extremely proud of my 1/4 Italian ethnicity. My mother is the one who is half Italian and she was constantly talking about our family and our family history. It also doesn’t help that my full-blooded Italian grandfather was somewhat of a legend in our tiny town. I never met the man, but the way everyone talks about him makes him out to be this larger than life character. His wife, my grandmother, used to talk about him in the same manner. He died in 1979, but she continued to love him up until she passed. She was a pretty impressive human being herself by the way. She was a great cook too, so I’m sure she’d get a kick out of this blog.
As an adult, I still enjoy the festival, but I wish it was like how it used to be. Before I was even born the festival was less about fast food stands and more about the celebration of our Italian heritage. There is still some of that happening though. I particularly enjoy all the local clubs and organizations that have spaghetti tents and etc. In the past, more of the stands on our main festival strip where local Italian cooks who would sell their sauces and more during the festival. Also they had gondola rides on the Wabash river. We still have the gondola, but it is not rideable anymore. Unless you count when it’s used as a float during our parade.
Fun personal fact! They also have a tractor ride where you get a little mini tour of the town. When I was in grade school I was riding this ride and they had a narration tape playing. In the tape they mentioned my grandfather and how he brought the gondola over from Italy. I was so excited about this I ran to my mother and said, “Mom! Why didn’t you tell me it was grandpa that brought the gondola?”
My mother had to burst my bubble a bit. She explained that there was a committee and he wasn’t the only one who had a hand in it. The next year they changed the narration so it didn’t single out my grandfather. I like it when the facts are accurate, but I admittedly got a kick out of hearing my grandfather’s name on the tractor ride.
Besides the spaghetti fests and the gondola, we also have a couple of mini museums and a wine garden. The mini museums are an old Italian grocery store and a small house that a little old Italian lady used to live in. The wine garden is pretty much a bar that is only open during the festival and it’s a highlight for the adults. Especially the adults in my age range. I say adults loosely, because we are, in my opinion, pretty immature. Especially during the festival. The wine garden is an outdoor venue with a small stage and an overhead trellis with grape vines. It’s simple but pretty. It’s pretty tame during the day. At night the wine garden becomes a Dionysian high school reunion. It’s a little weird admittedly, but it can also be fun.
Needless to say this cookbook is very precious to me, because it reminds me of home, my heritage, and the festival. My great-grandmother has three recipes in it too. The clam pasta is not one of them, but I’ll get around to her recipes eventually.
This recipe is delicious and super easy to make. All you have to do is saute a can of clams with the clam juice, garlic, and a ton of parsley. Then you pour it over your choice of cooked pasta. It amazed me how simple and good this recipe is! I made a clam pasta that was more elaborate from another cookbook and it wasn’t nearly as good.
The great thing about this recipe is that you could substitute it easily with other meats too. I didn’t try this yet, admittedly, but I could tell from experience that it would go well with shrimp. I’d be intrigued to try it with scallops or chicken too. I would love to try it with shirmp since I’m not a clam lover. Despite that though, I really enjoyed this recipe and would recommend it.
The lovely clam pasta.