"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
There is not much variation among recipes for Minorcan clam chowder; the choices of vegetables included may vary a bit, and some recipes may call for salt pork instead of bacon. But all include a single bummer of a caveat: If it doesn’t include actual datil peppers from St. Augustine, it’s not the real deal. I hate recipes like that.
My version is a composite of several recipes. The recipe below makes two changes from some of the “authentic” recipes I’ve seen. First, most recipes add the clams close to the beginning of the cooking process, cooking them — along with the vegetables and seasonings — for an hour or more. I don’t want my poor little clams reduced to shriveled bits of rubber, so I prefer to add mine at the end of the cooking process.
Second, given that a vast majority of the world’s population lives nowhere near St. Augustine, I offer a pragmatically serviceable alternative to datil peppers: habanero chiles, which are closely related to them and very similar in appearance and (kick-ass) heat level. Like datils, habaneros have an alluring tropical fruit aroma — just not the same one. But if you can beg, borrow or steal a datil, do it; you won’t regret it.
Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
"Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987
Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)
The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)