56/365: National Clam Chowder Day

If you’re thinking wait a minute, wasn’t there already a clam chowder day? – well, so were we. And there was! We celebrated National New England Clam Chowder Day on January 21st. So, what gives? They’re separate holidays, that’s what. Seems to me they’d make ’em more than a month apart, but we didn’t invent the rules…we just follow them. Since the first holiday specified New England clam chowder and this one is dedicated to clam chowder in general, we decided to make Manhattan clam chowder this go-round. It’s different enough to give us variety!

Unlike the popular New England variety of clam chowder – which is thick and cream-based – Manhattan clam chowder is more like a fish stew: thinner, with a tomato-based broth. Despite the name, the ingredients do not include chunks of skyscrapers. In the 1890s it was called “New York clam chowder” or “Fulton Fish Market clam chowder.” Portugese immigrants in Rhode Island were the first to substitute tomatoes for milk, as tomato stews were all the rage back in Portugal. Why they called it “New York” clam chowder rather than “Rhode Island” clam chowder is a mystery. It’s already such a tiny state, you’d think they’d want the publicity. Quick, name another food associated with Rhode Island!

Exactly my point.

Actually, there is a regional variety called Rhode Island clam chowder, made with a clear broth. Man, talk about confusing! New Englanders, who believed their chowder was soup-erior, felt that labeling anything “New York” was an insult, so they dubbed Rhode Island’s tomato-based chowder “Manhattan” clam chowder. Bitter much, Bostonians?

There are many other regional varieties of clam chowder. Delaware clam chowder contains fried cubes of salt pork and quahog clams, Hatteras clam chowder has a clear broth thickened with flour, and Minorcan clam chowder – popular in Florida – is tomato-based and features spicy datil peppers. There’s even a New Jersey clam chowder, but if I give you the recipe some guy named Guido has threatened to whack me.

Growing up, I used to enjoy an occasional can of Campbell’s Manhattan clam chowder. For today’s challenge, I wanted to make it from scratch, so I found a recipe online. Turned out pretty good, too. My kids were astounded that clam chowder could be a color other than white, but they finished their bowls, so I’m thinking they enjoyed it, too. Thank you, ever-reliable Allrecipes.com!

Manhattan Clam Chowder

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