Here's why "best clam chowder" is the most controversial seafood debate
Most Americans would say that the United States has two clam chowders, the creamy New England-style and the tomato-based Manhattan kind. They know this in a large part due to the Campbell’s Soup company bringing both chowders to the masses. Who didn’t grow up with Mom pouring a can of clam chowder into a pot?
I would argue there are three types of clam chowder in America, the third and best being North Carolina’s own. Some people call it “Hatteras clam chowder,” others call it “Down East clam chowder,” but most locals just call it “clam chowder” because no matter where you’re from on the N.C. coast, it’s always made with mostly clams.
Agreeing on a clam chowder recipe is no small deal. In New England, where those other two chowders are from, cooks constantly quarrel over which recipe is correct. Milk- or cream-based New England-style with potatoes and onions might be thick or thin. Manhattan-style seasoned with garlic and often soup vegetables such as carrots, onions and celery has many variations. Long Islanders add milk or cream. Floridians include hot chilies. In New Jersey, cooks stir in light cream, creamed asparagus and celery powder.
It was all too much for one Maine legislator to take. In the mid-1900s, New England clam chowder devotee Rep. Cleveland Sleeper was so offended by Manhattan-style chowder that he kept drafting bills to make putting tomatoes in clam chowder a crime. Offenders would have been forced to dig a barrel of clams at high tide.
The issue was supposedly finally put to rest in the so-called “Maine chowder war of 1939.” Read more and get a Hatteras Clam Chowder reicpe.
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