Entry in progress. Penniless lexicographer taking a break—B.P.
What is a Shore Dinner?
A shore dinner is a meal of mixed seafood or freshwater fish, depending on the region. The name is taken from the tradition of fishing all day and then putting into shore to assemble dinner with some of that day’s catch. Since shore dinners ideally involve a wide variety of fish, they are best when eaten by a large group of people, making the effort of preparation worth it. In some regions, to-go shore dinners are offered by markets and restaurants for people who want to enjoy this classic meal at home.
Shore dinners are particularly associated with the 1,000 Islands region between the United States and Canada, and they are also eaten along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. In the 1,000 Islands, a “shore dinner” is a frequent offering in a tourist package. Some tourists greatly enjoy the tradition since they can watch their meals being caught or participate in the fishing.
Along with mixed seafood, a shore dinner typically includes hearty bread and corn on the cob. Other foods like potatoes are sometimes included as well, depending on regional preference. There are also a wide range of ways to prepare a shore dinner; since the fish is so fresh, many recipes use minimal ingredients and spices to allow the natural flavor of the food to come through. By tradition, shore dinner is usually prepared in a large pan with fatback, a form of bacon. The grease from the bacon helps to flavor and cook the food.
Shore dinners often incorporate steamed crustaceans like oysters, mussels, and clams. They may also include creatures like crabs and lobsters, along with an assortment of fried cuts of fish. As one might imagine, the ingredients in a shore dinner can get messy, and the meal is usually highly casual as a result. The hearty bread helps diners sop up flavorful juices, and some people also use their bread to assemble sandwiches with their favorite ingredients.
Shore dinner often includes a salad which is tossed with 1,000 Island dressing, along with guide’s coffee, a dense black coffee prepared in a pot on the stove. Some shore dinners end with French toast for dessert, typically with a lavish helping of syrup as well. Many fans of the shore dinner believe that it is best enjoyed in the great outdoors, prepared on an open cookstove after a long day on the water.
Maine Shore Dinner
Other products by Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company
Lobster tails, mussels, shrimp, scallops, corn, butter, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, and chives
The ultimate lobster bake in a bag! Two lobster tails, a dozen mussels, shrimp, scallops and corn on the cob all drenched in an herbed lemon butter sauce. Packaged in a large foil bag that can be cooked on your grill or in your oven. This is the life- a Maine lobster bake without any of the work- we do it for you. Just thaw, heat and eat. Serves 2.
a meal that features a variety of seafood dishes
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
shore dinner n
A meal consisting largely of seafood served by the seashore; a set restaurant meal featuring a similar menu. esp NEng
1872 Scribner’s Mth. 3.333 RI, It was announced in the bills as “a first-class shore dinner.”..The bill of fare on these occasions is inexorable, and consists of three courses and a dessert. First course: baked clams, with green corn and melted butter. Second course: clam chowder. Third course: baked fish, with raw tomatoes and cucumbers...Dessert: clamcakes, which are fritters made of clams chopped very small and fried in butter.
1885 Bay State Mth. 3.197 Nantucket MA, After a shore dinner at the Wauwinet House, and another stroll on the beaches, they started forthe town on the yacht “Lilian.”
1895 Outing 26.408 NEng, Hapy-Go-Lucky Beach is proud of their achievements..in the ordering of and presiding at a good shore-dinner.
1920 DN 5.83 nwWA, SHore dinner: Mrs. ____ gave shore dinner at Sunlight Beach.
1939 Wolcott Yankee Cook Book 58, New Hampshire Shoe Dinner—Clam or Fish Chowder...Steamed Hampton River Clams with Clam Bouillon and Drawn Butter..Broiled Rock Cod—Fried Clams..Broiled Lobster—Potato Chips..Corn on the Cob—Tomato and Cucumber Salad..Rolls..Apple Pie—Cheese—or Ice Cream..Coffee.
1947 Paul Linden 267 ceMA, It was arranged for the party to eat at the Massasoit a shore dinner cooked by Jeff.
1966 York Co. Coast Star (Kennebunk ME) 28 Apr 6/5, Now Open / Forthe Season / Serving Everyday from 11:30 A.M. / Shore Dinners / Prime Steaks / Chicken / Luncheons / A La Carte Menu.
1975 Gould ME Lingo 253, Shore dinner...The shore dinner originated before the turn of the century at New Meadows Inn at West Bath, where it was a seafood meal prepared on a range and served at a table in the dining room...The meal began with fried and steamed clams, followed by a lobster stew or bisque. Then came a boiled lobster. Dessert was traditionally a thin sugar cookie..with vanilla ice cream.
1978 DARE File ME, [Picture post card:] Down East Gourmet’s Delight “Shore Dinner” Famed throughout the world as New England’s greatest contribution in delightful food.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
shore dinner U.S., a dinner consisting mainly of sea-food
1895 Outing XXVI. 408/2 Happy-Go-Lucky Beach is proud of their achievements..in the ordering of and presiding at a good *shore-dinner.
1947 E. H. PAUL Linden on Saugus Branch 267 It was arranged for the party to eat at the Massasoit a shore dinner cooked by Jeff.
3 August 1873, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, pg. 3.
The shore dinner is the meal at which a majority of the visitors to Rocky Point sit down.
28 August 1877, Connecticut Constitution (hartford, CT), pg. 3:
We have been to a clam bake or shore dinner, and what clams.
14 May 1879, Baltimore (MD) Sun, pg. 1 ad:
Also a regular Eastern Shore Dinner of Fish, Crabs, Oysters, &c. , at the hotel at Oxford.
14 July 1879, New Haven (CT) Evening Register, pg. 2:
An overdose of shore dinner and baked clams will give an opportunity to appreciate the pill’s grim progress.
20 July 1924, New York (NY) Times, pg. XX2:
The one-time “Coney Island” that the small town boy knew only as one of the delights of circuses, carnivals and fairs, has taken an all-the-year-round shanty on Main Street.
In the variety of local names applied to the same product a national term often proves useful. The trade has already learned to respond to the names, “Coney Island chicken,” “shore dinner,” “half smokes,” “weinies” and so on.
June 1929, The Restaurant Man, pg. 21, col. 1:
The HOME of SHORE DINNERS
THE shore dinner is an Atlantic Coast institution which thrives chiefly at this time of year. It may be found in various places along the coast, but its natural habitat is Sheepshead Bay, near Coney
Island, where it wassaid to have been originated about forty years ago by the late James Villepigue. Sheepshead Bay is fairly dotted with restaurants serving shore dinners, but the most famous is Villepigue Inn, now operated by the widow of the founder.
A good shore dinner always includes steamed clams, broiled lobster and crab meat.
(Pg. 54, col. 3—ed.)
“Big Jim” Villepigue began hiscatering careerearly in his life as a concessionaire at Madison Square Garden during the horse shows and at the Sheepshead Bay race track. He was a gigantic figure, weighing nearly 350 pounds—suggesting “Big Jim”—and a genial soul who felt equally at home among the social leaders and sporting celebrities. He hobnobbed with both. Those were the days when dining was an art and Mr. Villepigue spent much thought in devising new ways of beguiling the appetite. He hit upon a combination which he called a shore dinner, consisting of lettuce and tomato
salad, clam chowder and lobsters, varying this menu at times with either chicken or deviled crab. This, together with dessert, cost $1.50, a high figure in those days.
He looked about for a little restaurant where he could feature that menu and found his opportunity by pruchasing Tappan’s,and itwas here that his wife started her restaurant career and assisted her husband in gaining his world wide reputation. He sold his concessions to Harry Stevens, now famous as the “hot go king of America,” with concessions in most of the major league ball parks and race tracks extending from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to Tia Juana in Mexico.
8 June 1929, The Restaurateur and American Hotelier, pg. 13:
How A Shore Dinner
Became Internationally Famous
(More about the Villepigue Inn at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn—ed.)
The Rhode Island Handbook
by Mark Patinkin
illustrated by Don Bousquet
N. Attleborough, MA: Covered Bridge Press
THE SHAW DINNA
Some here say the closest thing to a secular temple in Rhode Island is the Rocky Point Shore Dinner Hall, consecrated to the worship of clamcakes and chowder. And corn and fries. And cole slaw. And baked fish with creole sauce. And don’t forget the boiled lobster, boiled chicken and linguine with clam sauce. And fish and chips. And did I mention the Indian pudding and watermelon?
After the above is consumed during early evening services, it’s traditional to ride the Plunge and the Corkscrew roller coaster.
Then you eat a doughboy—a ring of fried fat the size of an El Dorado hubcap—and call it a Rhode Island night.
Visit 1000 Islands
The Shore Dinner –- a 1000 Islands Tradition
By Allen Benas
Apr 20, 2006, 15:07
Ingredients for a shore dinner can vary slightly based on the traditions passed down through the Alexandria Bay, Clayton and Cape Vincent Guides Associations, however the dinners are all conducted basically the same way. A fire is started and water is put on to boil for coffee, potatoes and corn on the cob. Then the guide sets the table.. First to hit the skillet is the appetizer, typically bacon for a BLT sandwich, but sometimes salt pork or fat-back with onions. The appetizer is paired with a freshly tossed salad, often with – what else? – Thousand Islands Dressing!
The guide will dust the fish with breading and fry it in hot vegetable oil or the fat-back grease. The flesh sears quickly, preventing absorption of the oil. The golden brown fish is served with the corn on the cob and potatoes.
While guests eat the fish, the guide prepares dessert by mixing eggs, sugar and cream, and dropping bread in to soak. The batter-dipped bread is then pan fried in butter or fat-back grease, then served with butter, a bottle cap of maple syrup, a bottle cap of cream, and a bottle cap of brandy. Dessert is accompanied by the brew locally known as “guides coffee.”