Tonight's dinner was Steamers and Lobster, made by real Yankees (my sister-in-law and her mom). I didn't watch the whole process, so I don't guarantee the accuracy of what I'm writing. I'm doing my best, but...
Steamers are clams. That much I'm sure of. First, the clams need to be soaked in water with some cornmeal on the bottom of the sink. They stick out their necks (appropriately, I believe) to eat the cornmeal, and that makes them poop out any sand or other impurities they have in their little bodies. After soaking and eating overnight, they should be ready for dinner. This is what the sink looks like shortly before the clams get tossed into boiling water.
When the steamers were ready, each person got a bowl of clams, a cup of the water the clams were boiled in, and some drawn butter. You take the clam out of its shell, pull off the schmutz that clings to the clam around its neck, hold it by the neck and dunk it in the broth to rinse out any remaining sand, then dip it in the butter, and drop it in your mouth. It tastes OK, especially the butter.
If a clam shell won't open, that's a good indication that the clam was already dead at cooking time, and you shouldn't eat it.
After the steamers were gone, it was time for the lobster. Note that the "tablecloth" was lots of newspapers.
My sister-in-law told the story of having moved to the South when she was younger. There was a bar that served $5 lobsters as a special and, being from New England, she was partial to their special. One time when she was there, a couple Southern guys came in and ordered the lobsters. She watched as they broke off the tail, found the meat, and ate it. Then they pushed their plates aside as though they had finished.
She hated to see good lobster go to waste, so she asked them if they were going to eat the rest.
"You mean there's more?" Apparently they had only heard of eating lobster tails.
Indeed there was more, and she felt it her duty as a Yankee to teach them the way to eat a lobster--rather than just taking advantage of their ignorance.
I'm not sure how much detail I need to go into on how to eat a lobster, so I'll just stop there. When we were finished, the table was covered with piles of red pieces of leg and claw and broken exoskeleton. Then we took our turns washing hands and faces and bemoaning the lack of bibs.
The lobster was followed by an ice cream chaser. Perfect.