Happy Friday! Today is National Clam Chowder Day. In most parts of the country, it’s a perfect day to eat a nice steamy bowl of this goodness….even better in a bread bowl. Here is some history about chowdah…
According to the food historians, the word chowder and its application to fisherman’s stew comes from France, where they have “la chaudree”, which basically means cauldron. Chowder was traditionally a fish stew (no clams), that was brought over from Europe with the settlers. It was a great way to for fisherman to use all the parts of the fish in an economical and palatable way.
As the years went on, clams and quahogs were found to be plentiful in New England, and chowders were often made with those ingredients instead. But due to regional differences, there are many interpretations on clam chowder. Here are the two basic types.
New England Clam Chowder: Most likely the first type of clam chowder created, there is no “authentic” recipe per se. They often include clams, cream, butter, pork fat and potatoes. By 1836, New England clam chowder was already well-known in Boston and served at Ye Olde Union Oyster House, the nation’s oldest continuously operating restaurant.
Manhattan Clam Chowder: Some characterize it more as a vegetable/tomato based soup with clams. It was said to have its roots in Rhode Island, where cooks were known to add tomatoes to New England style chowders. Tomatoes were plentiful, and they believed it was an obvious choice to add them to the chowder.