FIRE ISLAND STARVE TO DEATH
By Viola Suydam [nee Brown]
I was born July 10, 1888. At the time when I was a small child some men from Eastport would take their sailboats and sail from Eastport to Fire Island, across from Bayshore, to dig for clams, catch eels in eel pot and get any seafood that was in season while there were there.
They would take with them potatoes, streaked salt pork, baked beans and homemade bread. They would stay a week then come back and sell the clams and other seafood. Clams one cent each and other things accordingly.
Sometimes a storm would overtake them and they would be unable to work for the seafood. Then they would get low on food and would cook what they called "Fire Island Starve to Death."
In a small iron pot put streaked salt pork to cover the bottom and fry out until light brown. Cut up enough potatoes to partly fill the pot. Pour in water and cook until potatoes are tender. Keep enough water to have some juice that is thickened with the potatoes. If they were lucky enough to have some clams they were added to the stew to make it extra good.
My husband, Earl Suydam and I spent our honeymoon doing those same things. We went in a cat boat. In later years we went on vacation several times but we went in a powder boat.
Once it rained heavily for one week but we stayed in our boat cabin and enjoyed it. When the sun finally came out we appreciated it all the more and we got clams, eels, crabs, soft crabs, soft clams and a large weak fish which was swimming near shore and Earl caught it with his bare hands.
From Eastport Bicentennial Cook Book, 1975