New England Clam Chowder Day
Clam chowder is any of several chowders containing clams and broth. Along with the clams, diced potato is common, as are onions, which are occasionally sauteed in the drippings from salt pork or bacon. Celery is frequently used. Other vegetables are uncommon, but small carrot strips might occasionally be added, primarily for color. A garnish of parsley serves the same purpose. Bay leaves are also sometimes used as a garnish and flavoring. It is believed that clams were added to chowder because of their relative ease to collect.
Clam chowder is often served in restaurants on Fridays in order to provide a seafood option for those who abstain from meat every Friday, which used to be a requirement for Catholics before liturgical changes in Vatican II. Though the period of strict abstinence from meat on Fridays was reduced to Lent, the year-round tradition of serving clam chowder on Fridays remains.
New England clam chowder
Traditional New England clam chowder is thickened with oyster crackers, instead of flour.
New England clam chowder is a milk or cream-based chowder, commonly made with potatoes, onion, and clams. Including tomatoes is shunned; a 1939 bill making tomatoes in clam chowder illegal was introduced in the Maine legislature. It is occasionally referred to as Boston Clam Chowder in the Midwest.
New England clam chowder is usually accompanied with oyster crackers. Crown Pilot Crackers were a popular brand of cracker to accompany chowder, until the product was discontinued in 2008. Crackers may be crushed and mixed into the soup for thickener, or used as a garnish.
Chowders originated in fishing villages on the coast of France in the 16th century. Back then any kind of fish chowder was considered a poor man’s dish. Most recipes called for salt pork and biscuits, which were both part of a standard sailor’s ration. Today, we’ve substituted the biscuits (also known as hardtack) for salty crackers!
There are many different varieties of clam chowder including New England, Manhattan, Rhode Island, Down East, and Outer Banks. New England clam chowder is made with milk or cream, and the use of tomatoes is frowned upon. In fact, in 1939 the state of Maine made it illegal to put tomatoes in clam chowder!
Celebrate this great culinary tradition and enjoy a bowl of delicious chowder in honor of New England Clam Chowder Day!