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Friday, April 8, 2011

New England Clam Chowder

I grew up in the Boston area where chowder is a matter of civic pride, an art form, and strong opinions. First, it's pronounced chowda'. Second, manhattan style is not considered chowder there, but soup. Third, everyone thinks their's is the best and everyone is very willing to loudly debate this fact with anyone who will stand still long enough to hear what they have to say on the matter. Last, there are two kinds of chowder- no not New England or Manhattan. We've been over this. The answer is fish or clam.
One of my favorite literary passages ponders this very question, "Fish or Clam?". The following quote is from, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville,
"Clam or Cod?" she repeated.
"A clam for supper? a cold clam; is that what you mean Mrs. Hussey?" says I! "but that's a rather cold and clammy reception in the winter time, ain't it Mrs. Hussey?"
But being in a great hurry..., and seeming to hear nothing but the word "clam," Mrs. Hussey hurried towards an open door leading towards the kitchen, and bawling out "clam for two," disappeared.
"Queequeg," said I, "do you you think that we can make supper for us both on one clam?"
However a warm savory steam steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained. Oh! sweet friends, hearkening to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarecely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuits, and salted pork cut up into little flakes! the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Our appetites being sharpened by the frosty voyage, and in particular, Queequeg seeing his favorite fishing before him, and the chowder being surpassingly excellent, we despatched it with great expedition: when leaning back a moment and bethinking me of Mrs. Hussey's clam and cod announcement, I thought I would try a little experiement. Stepping to the kitchen door, I uttered the word "cod" with great emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a few moments the savory steam came forth again, but with a different flavor, and in good time a fine cod-chowder was placed before us."
Every good inn should serve a good chowder and the Rogues' Harbor Inn is proud to serve theirs this weekend. Chef Luke is preparing Clam Chowder at this very moment. Thick and creamy, hearty New England fare served up in Ithaca, the heart of the Finger Lakes. Get it while it lasts.