The Best Clam Chowder?
In Boston, the competition to have the best clam chowder is thick and fierce. You might be surprised that Sue could be such a point of contention, but the heritage of clam chowder is a hot button topic for New Englanders. Every ingredient has an argument. Should you use red potatoes or russet? Is cream the best – or will scalded milk or even canned evaporated milk do in a pinch? Thyme, tarragon, or basil? Bacon, bacon drippings, or salt pork? And there is also a ferocious debate surrounding the use of celery.
What started as simple fare for the working classes – and broke writers such as Herman Melville who gave the dish a prominent spot in Moby Dick – is served in countless ways every day.
A Taste of History
By the time that Melville wrote his most famous novel, clam chowder was well-known all over New England. The first written mention of the dish was in a menu at a Boston restaurant in the 1830s, though of course, the dish had existed for nearly 200 years by then. It is thought that the term “chowder” originated from the pot in which the dish was originally cooked – a French cooking pot called a chaudiere.
Alternatively, the name may come from an Old English word for a fish peddler – jowter. The old English term may have it over the French, as chowders had initally been the fare of fishermen, dock workers, sailors, and others who made a living from the sea.
Seek and Ye Shall Find
Once you start hunting for the best chowder in Boston, it will be very hard to stop. Not just because of the wonderful variety of chowders available will tempt you from table to table, but other New England classic seafood dishes are also on offer. Who could turn down a lobster roll, a pot of steamed clams in broth, or a plate of fried clams? Happy hunting, seafood lovers!