Chowder

From Academic Kids

Chowder is any of a variety of soups, enriched with salt pork fatback and thickened with flour, or more traditionally with crushed ship biscuit or saltine crackers, and milk. To some Americans, it means clam chowder, made with cream or milk in most places, or with tomato as "Manhattan clam chowder." Corn chowder is a thick soup filled with whole corn (maize) kernels. Chowder is often commonly associated with New England cuisine.

The word chowder comes from the pot it is cooked in, a French chaudière "a pot," developed from chaud, "hot". The word "chowder" is a New England word that came from Newfoundland, where Breton fishermen introduced the word, and perhaps the fish soup itself (compare bouillabaisse).

The recipe below for "New England chowder" is, oddly, not a clam chowder. Rather, it is a fish chowder, which along with corn and clam chowder continues to enjoy popularity in New England.


Contents

New England Chowder

From the 1881 Household Cyclopedia Have a good haddock, cod, or any other solid fish; cut it in pieces three inches square, put a pound of fat salt pork in strips into the pot, set it on hot coals and fry out the oil; take out the pork and put in a layer of fish, over that a layer of onions in slices, then a layer of fish with slips of fat salt pork, then another layer of onions, and so on alternately until your fish is consumed; mix some flour with as much water as will fill the pot; season with black pepper and salt to your taste, and boil it for half an hour. Have ready some crackers (Philadelphia pilot bread if you can get it) soaked in water till they are a little softened; throw them into your chowder five minutes before you take it up. Serve in a tureen.

Daniel Webster's Chowder

Four tablespoonfuls of onions, fried with pork; a quart of boiled potatoes well mashed; 1 1/2 pounds of sea biscuit broken; 1 teaspoonful of thyme mixed with one of summer savory: 1/2 bottle of mushroom catsup; one bottle of port or claret; 1/4 of a nutmeg, grated; a few cloves, mace, and allspice; 6 pounds fish (sea-bass or cod), cut into slices; 25 oysters, a little black pepper, and a few slices of lemon. The whole put in a pot and covered with an inch of water, boiled for an hour and gently stirred.

References to chowder in popular culture

  • as Springfield Meat Loaf, in at least one episode of The Simpsons
  • In the song, c. 1898 by George L. Giefer "Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder," which survives primarily (slightly corrupted) as a repeated children's chant "Who put the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder?/Nobody answered so we asked a little louder." Lyrics at [1] (http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/w/whothrewtheoverallsinmrsmurphyschowder.shtml), [2] (http://sniff.numachi.com/~rickheit/dtrad/pages/tiMRPHCHOW;ttMRPHCHOW.html), [3] (http://www.heftone.com/words/who_threw_the_overalls_in_mrs_murphys_chowder.html), tune at [4] (http://www.kididdles.com/mouseum/w057.html), 1901 audio recording at [5] (http://www.archive.org/audio/audio-details-db.php?collection=opensource_audio&collectionid=EDIS-SRP-0205-20).
  • In the slang word "chowderhead." Wentworth and Flexner: "A stupid person; one who uses poor judgement. Since c. 1835." (One of many expressions analogizing a head to a soft, mushy substance).

Ishmael samples chowders (in Moby-Dick)

Mrs. Hussey... ushered us into a little room, and seating us at a table spread with the relics of a recently concluded repast, turned round to us and said--"Clam or Cod?"
"What's that about Cods, ma'am?" said I, with much politeness.
"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 to resume scolding the man in the purple shirt who was waiting for it in the entry, and seeming to hear nothing but the word "clam," Mrs. Hussey hurried towards an open door leading to the kitchen, and bawling out "clam for two," disappeared...
However, a warm savory 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, hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely 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 favourite fishing food 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 experiment. Stepping to the kitchen door, I uttered the word "cod" with great emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a few moments the savoury steam came forth again, but with a different flavor, and in good time a fine cod-chowder was placed before us.
Herman Melville (1851), Moby-Dick, or the Whale

References

  • Wentworth, Harold and Stuart Berg Flexner, 1967, Dictionary of American Slang, Thomas Y. Crowell, NY. ISBN 0690236026 ("Chowderhead" definition, in use since c. 1835).ja:チャウダー
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