We’d completely forgotten about this recipe. But it all came flooding back to us when we were looking at some behind-the-scenes photos, trying to see what unappetizing thing Linda was scooping out of some tacky clam shells that she had placed on a platter filled with decorative sand. It took some sleuthing to find out where we stashed the recipe but we finally found it scribbled down on the inside sleeve of Jen’s Rags to Rufus LP. No idea what the association was between clam dip and Chaka Khan was at the time but I’m guessing it wasn’t anything to do with “Tell Me Something Good”.
This dip has a lot going for it or at least it did in 1974, including ingredients like canned clams, cream cheese, and flavour extender. Those three ingredients could transform the most mundane pantry staples into a party, which was Linda’s basic criteria for entertaining company—better to save your energy for the key party.
Refrigeration on set was a constant problem. We used two miniature refrigerators running around the clock, one next to Linda’s kitchen set and the other in Linda and Joy’s dressing room that was generally only stocked with nail polish and peach schnapps, and you didn’t dare move the schnapps unless you were fixing yourself a breakfast Fuzzy Navel.
On the night before we were to shoot this dip recipe, I made the mix up and put it in the kitchen fridge to use the next day. Unfortunately that night, Linda and Joy ran into a foxy group of sailors down at the harbour and decided to take them back to the studio so Joy could show them her pressed flower collection that she kept in their dressing room. In their haste to chill down the case of Baby Duck that Linda had secured away for special visitors, the clam dip was relocated from the kitchen fridge to beside the radiator.
The genius of this recipe meant that when it came time to start shooting I could still go ahead and use the toxic dip in the beauty shot because, despite it being warmed over a six hour period, its signature clay-grey colour remained intact. The only tweak needed was to cover up some of the dried coagulated bits with curly parsley. It meant, however, that Linda and Joy couldn’t eat it on camera, having to resort to tasting the food they made fresh during the taping, which they rarely ever did because it was always so peppered with cigarette ashes. None of this actually mattered In the end though because Joy still stole a bite of the radiator clams, lost in her craving for something salty to chase the Mai-Tai she was sipping during filming. Thankfully at the hospital her doctor wasn’t concerned about a thing, since he advised at her stage in the pregnancy it was completely safe to eat soured clams as long as it was followed by a stiff drink.
Minced Clam Cheese Dip
7 1/2 oz can minced clams, drained
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon flavour extender (MSG)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Serve from cleaned clam shells or other nautical serving ware. Spread on a Ritz.