by Kate Heyhoe
"Shouters for chowders"—that's what your family and friends will become when you serve them any of the steamy, hot chowders in this week's column—washed down with a hearty ale or cold boutique brewery beer.
Chowders are one of the original communal meals—and a good excuse for a social gathering. The name comes from the French word chaudiere, a three-legged cauldron used by fishermen to make fresh seafood stews. When the ships returned from the sea, every village had a large chaudiere waiting for a portion of each man's catch, to be served later as part of the community's welcoming celebration. In the 1750s, French and British sailing ships served up their hearty chowders as they sailed from port to port, introducing chowder to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New England—where the passionate debate over the proper way to make a chowder still rivals that of any Super Bowl competition. Chowders have long been customary dishes at political rallies all along the Atlantic seaboard, and the dish has even been featured at U.S. presidential inaugurations.
What makes a chowder a chowder, and not just a soup? Chowders originally contained some seafood, but today the definition seems broader. A chowder can be any thick, rich soup with chunks of ingredients in it. Potatoes, onions, milk or cream, flour (as a roux to thicken) and clams are common ingredients, but not mandatory. Corn chowders are almost as popular as clam chowders, and I've even seen a recipe for artichoke chowder. Manhattan clam chowder uses tomatoes, unlike its rival, traditional New England clam chowder, which uses milk. Jamaicans make conch chowder (frequently laced with coconut milk), Pacific Northwest chowders can contain smoked salmon, and chowders of shrimp, turkey, ham, and smoked sausage aren't unusual in the Americas either.
Anyone can make a chowder, and unlike meat stews or chiles, chowders don't simmer for great lengths of time on the stove (although it does take time to make a fresh stock, or you can use bottled clam juice or canned chicken broth). These thick, hearty soups are filling enough to serve in small mugs, accompanied by oyster crackers or crusty bread, a simple green salad and my personal pick for a great brewski, Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale.
So, by now, I hope you're cheering loudly for chowders. Below is an assortment of super chowder-bowl recipes to kick off your weekend football rally.
from Global Destinations: The Caribbean
Jamaican Conch Chowder
from our site archives:
Main Super Bowl page
Copyright © 1999, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created January 1999
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