February 25, 2013

National Clam Chowder Day

"Chowder breathes reassurance. It steams consolation." - Clementine Paddleford

It's National Clam Chowder Day!

Chowder, which is said stem from the French word for a large cooking pot “chaudière,” was originally considered to be a poor man’s food. It was a simple dish made by the settlers from vegetables, fish, salt pork, and biscuits from the ships in which they traveled. Today, we usually use oyster crackers to top our chowders with, but the concept is the same.

There are lots of version of clam chowders. For example, Rhode Island clam chowder has a clear broth and is made with quahogs, bacon, onions, and potatoes.

Minorcan clam chowder, served in Florida, is made with datil peppers.

New England clam chowder - the finest kind in my entirely biased opinion - is the most authentic version you can get. It’s made from cream, clams, potatoes, and onions. And in 1939 Maine legislature made it illegal to use tomatoes in our (read: real) clam chowder, which ain’t nothin’ like that imitation New York stuff, bub. No suh!

But today is all about that “New York stuff.” Manhattan clam chowder is made with tomatoes in more of a stew-like fashion. To celebrate I made my own vegan version with tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, no-chicken broth, mushrooms, tempeh bacon, tofu, and seasonings. Perfect for this relentless February weather which is back in full force!

Happy National Clam Chowder Day!