CHOWDER TRIVIA & HISTORY
Daniel Webster's Chowder Recipe, from ‘The Cook’, (1885):
“Four tablespoonfuls of onions, fried with pork. One quart of boiled potatoes, well mashed. One and a half pounds sea-biscuit, broken. One teaspoonful of thyme, mixed with one of summer savory. Half-bottle of mushroom catsup. One bottle of port or claret. Half of a nutmeg, grated. A few cloves, mace, and allspice. Six pounds of fish, sea-bass or cod, cut in slices. Twenty five oysters, a little black pepper, and a few slices of lemon. The whole put in a pot, covered with an inch of water, boiled for an hour, and gently stirred.”
Early French immigrants to Canada made a hearty soup called chaudree from salt pork and fish. (Chaudree derives from the Latin calderia 'caldron'.) When Breton inspired chaudree crossed the Canadian border and moved down the eastern seaboard of the United States "chowder" American style came into being.
Maine, ever practical and plain, fostered a simple chowder using pure water, clams, salt pork, and of course, potatoes. The dairy-rich state of Massachusetts chose to make its brand of chowder with milk, while Manhattan and Connecticut versions added tomatoes.
Rep. Cleveland Sleeper Jr. introduced into the Maine Legislature in February 1939, a bill to make the entrance of a tomato into clam chowder illegal!
Thus started one of the most famous gastronomic controversies in American history, still-if ever-to be settled, as to whether chowder should be made with tomatoes. [more at New England Historical Society]
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