There are few things as comforting as a bowl of warm clam chowder on a winter’s day, so it’s wonderful we get to celebrate National Clam Chowder Day on February 25. Originally considered a poor man’s food, the first chowders were fish stews made from vegetable and fish stewed in a large pot or cauldron. (The word “chowder” possibly finds its roots in the Latin word “calderia,” or cooking pot.) Clams are thought to have been introduced to the mix by the Native Americans and by the mid 1800’s were considered a main ingredient in what came to be known as clam chowder. Today, there are dozens of regional variations, including San Francisco clam chowder which comes in a sourdough bread bowl!
Why We Love Clam Chowder (and National Clam Chowder Day)
A. It’s carbaliciously awesome comfort food
New England clam chowder is traditionally served with tiny oyster crackers, while in San Francisco, piping hot clam chowder comes to the table in a bowl of hollowed-out sourdough. Clam chowder and carbs, a perfect combination.
B. Herman Melville wrote a famous ode to chowder
In his epic Moby Dick, Herman Melville wrote an ode to clam chowder that is so delectable, simply reading the words gets us craving a bowl. “Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazelnuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.” We’ll have what he’s having.
C. In the game of chowder, everyone wins
There are many types of clam chowder and everyone thinks their favorite is the best. New England Clam Chowder lovers turn up their noses at the tomatoes in Manhattan Clam Chowder. Meanwhile, Long Island plays the diplomat by including both cream and tomatoes in its clam chowder. In the Pacific Northwest, smoked salmon is often substituted for the more traditional smoked pork, and Florida makes a spicy Minorcan Clam Chowder. Seems like half the fun is figuring out which one is your favorite.
How to Celebrate National Clam Chowder Day
1. Learn to make clam chowder
Whether you choose a traditional recipe from centuries ago, or decide to try a modern take on a classic, you’ll end up with a delicious and hearty soup your whole family can enjoy.
2. Go clamming
What better way to make the perfect clam chowder than with fresh clams you’ve dug up yourself. All you really need is a bucket, a rake, and a little bit of patience and you’re on your way to a day of fun and a delicious meal.
3. Find the best local seafood restaurant
Clam chowder is a mainstay of most seafood restaurant menus. So let someone else do all the work while you treat yourself with a meal out on the town.