This is a memory painting of the shore in Maine where I grew up. The seaweed on the rocks is cleverly called rockweed. It grows everywhere, but we didn't eat it any more than we ate the lawn. Though central to the local diet, seaweed per se was never eaten, but it was valued. It was turned into the garden as fertilizer and thrown into the pot for flavor when steaming lobsters. As kids, we used to squeeze its bulbs for the paltry pop, hunt under it for the crabs before they found our toes, and mostly slip on it and fall into tide pools. And, as every Mainer knows, it's a critical component of a clambake. Though I've been landlocked for years, the how-to of building a bake is like genetic code to me.
At the risk of drowning in drool, here goes...
First, there is such a thing as a bake master. He/she should have a proven track record, the respect of the entire crew, and the capacity for handling a lot of beer under pressure. The rest of you should do what the boss says at all times.
(Italics mark potentially tragic mistakes.)
Collect a big pile of dry driftwood, a big heavy metal sheet (preferably a ship's hull, the rustier the better) and some buckets of seawater. Put a big piece of canvas out in the water to soak; weigh it down so it doesn't float away. Find a spot above the tide line surrounded by flat rocks, and put some dry stones in it to heat (wet ones will explode). Build a fire on top and keep it stoked until the rocks are redhot. Have a beer or two while you're waiting.
When the rocks are hot and the fire is burning down, put the big metal plate over them, leveled on the flat rocks. (Purists don't bother with the plate, but purists rhymes with tourists who think sand in their food is quaint.) While that's heating up, make the kids fetch big armloads of fresh seaweed and put it all in the buckets full of seawater. Keep it wet, cuz it doesn't smell any better dead than the rest of the stuff does. When the metal is hot, dump plenty of the wet seaweed on the plate and start to alternate layers of it with the food. Once all of the food is well-buried, cover the whole pile with the soaked canvas. In my experience, lobsters are an absolute must. And steamers of course cuz it's called a clambake, some quahogs, mussels, crabs, potatoes, onions, eggs, corn on the cob, and sometimes sausage. Put a large pot of butter near the heat for melting; there can't be too much.
The bake master is in charge of keeping the pile steaming and determining when the lobsters are done. Generally, all the other food will be done then, too, but it doesn't matter cuz over-cooked lobsters are grounds for keel-hauling and/or flat-out mutiny.
(This bake was put together to celebrate the dog formerly known as Cloud. Today she was christened with her new grown-up name, Mme. Clousseau.)
Felicitations, mon petit chou, de M. Garrett!