Posts Tagged With: New York

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!

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Categories: Soup | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

14/365: National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day

It’s National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day, which is nice because it’s cold out. And it’s snowing. A tasty, hot sandwich at lunchtime is just the ticket! And besides, who doesn’t love pastrami?

Well, other than Tara, who is proving to be a much pickier eater than I’d ever imagined. But she’s being a good sport about it, and dutifully trying at least one bite of everything we have. That’s all I can ask for!

Originating just a stone’s throw from Dracula’s castle and named after the Romanian word a păstra – which means “preserve” – pastrami was created as a method of preserving meat. There were no refrigerators back then, and Transylvanian folk didn’t want all that wonderful pork and mutton to go to waste, so they cured the meat by brining it, drying it, seasoning it with herbs and spices, smoking it, and then steaming it. Pastrami was introduced to the U.S. in the late 19th century following a wave of Romanian Jewish immigration to New York. The original English spelling, pastrama, was changed to pastrami in order to rhyme with salami, making it easier for American consumers to remember (and paving the way for the chart-topping 1892 rap hit, “(You Gotta) Fight For A Bite (Of Pastrami),” which famously paired verses about salami and pastrami with Tommy’s mommy, a Swami who survived a tsunami and married a commie).  Because beef was cheap, they started using that instead.

A butcher named Sussman Volk claimed to have created the first pastrami sandwich in 1887 after inheriting the recipe from a Romanian friend whose luggage he was storing while the man was out of the country. Volk’s pastrami sandwich was so popular he turned his butcher shop into a restaurant. Not so fast, say the folks at Katz’s Delicatessen, which opened in 1888 and is renowned for their pastrami sandwiches (and also Meg Ryan’s famous fake-orgasm “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in When Harry Met Sally). They take credit for the sandwich. No word on whether they duked it out or decided to split the royalties, but pastrami remains a popular sandwich to this day.

Although, to be honest, it proved a little tricky to find. Neither Subway nor Quizno’s has pastrami on their menu. Luckily, a local cheesesteak joint called Philly Bilmo’s does. Go figure. I ordered the Hot Pastrami and Swiss, with pickles and sauerkraut. What can I say? It was delicious! Hot and salty and flavorful. The pastrami brine is typically made with garlic, coriander, paprika, black pepper, cloves, allspice, and mustard seed, and I swear I could taste each of those ingredients in every bite. Tara took a taste, wrinkled her nose, and went back to her hot dog. That’s okay – I loved the sandwich enough for the both of us.

Hot Pastrami Sandwich


Categories: Beef | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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