Clam Chowder: Say it Right

By Jon SullivanThe original uploader was Y6y6y6 at English Wikipedia - from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain,
A bowl of New England clam chowder (Photo by Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons)

Today is National Clam Chowder Day in the United States.

Here are a few facts about clam chowder that you may not have known.

First, chowder is a soup, but not all soups are chowders. Chowder is a type of soup made with dairy products and is usually thickened. Most chowders are seafood based, although potato chowder and corn chowder are common varieties.

The most popular variety of clam chowder is New England style. It contains milk or cream, potatoes, onion, sometimes celery, and clams. It’s also known as Boston Clam Chowder in some regions.

The second-most widely-known variety isn’t even technically a chowder. Manhattan clam chowder has a tomato-based broth and a bright red color. Its roots are traced to Portuguese immigrants, who adapted traditional recipes to available ingredients.

The rivalry between Manhattan and New England style chowders has reached as far as state legislatures. In 1939, a bill was introduced in Maine’s legislature making it illegal to include tomatoes in clam chowder. The bill never became law, but the rivalry remains to this day.

For those who can’t choose between those two, there is a middle ground, almost literally, between Manhattan and New England.

Rhode Island clam chowder has a clear broth and usually contains clams, potatoes, onions and bacon. Despite being the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island has regional differences in its clam chowders. Some parts of the state have a tomato-based variety that is similar to Manhattan style but doesn’t include chunks of tomato.

Other areas that stake a claim to regional styles of clam chowder are New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina’s Outer Banks and St. Augustine, Florida.

Some related dishes from elsewhere in the world include bisque from France and Cullen skink from Scotland.

My favorite type is the New England style from Ivar’s restaurant in Seattle, preferably the seafood bar near the ferry dock.

Did we forget your favorite? Let us know on Twitter @triviapodcast.

Our question, what type of bowl for serving chowder was made famous in San Francisco?

Today is People Power Day in the Philippines, Day of the Revolution in Suriname and National Day in Kuwait.

In addition to National Clam Chowder Day, It’s unofficially National Chili Day, National Chocolate-Covered Peanuts Day and Let’s Eat Right Day, which doesn’t seem to understand the apparent theme of the day.

It’s the birthday of actor Jim Backus, musician George Harrison, and actress Rashida Jones.

38  years ago in 1978, the top song in the U.S. was “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees.

The No. 1 movie was “Coming Home,” while “The Silmarillion” by JRR Tolkien topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


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