This season's unending cold makes it perfect weather for Chowder. In "Thoughts on Clam Chowder," food writer Jane Lear echoes what many of us feel, "...this dratted weather (we’re eagerly awaiting an alleged 'warming trend') calls for something more substantial and nourishing."
Wonderful Tidbits of Information Seasoned This Piece
I didn't know that some clams were called middlenecks and in researching that I found more names for the various sizes of quahogs.
Have you heard of "pasta necks" or "top necks?" Around New England, we seem to have three divisions, cherrystones, littlenecks, and chowder clams
Lear also includes tips and background on milk, choosing and cutting potatoes, and thickening agents like crackers. She finishes up with her recipe for New England clam chowder.
I think she may have never experienced the good old red amusement park chowder served up at the shore dinner halls in places like Rocky Point Park and Crescent Park in Rhode Island. That's the one that was recreated for me by the wonderful crew on the Cod Squad Truck last summer. It too was thickened with crackers and was the perfect consistency for dipping clam cakes.
The other reason I loved this essay is that while rich chowders will warm us in our current deep freeze, chowder is a staple of summer. It's perfect for spooning up before the fried clams at your favorite clam shack. A giant pot of chowder is part of a great clam bake or clam boil.
Thinking about this gives me hope that the warmth will return and with it days by the shore with a cup of chowder in hand.
For more delicious writing, you can follow Jane Lear on Twitter, @janelear
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Words: Penny Cherubino
Photos: ©2008-2013 Penny Cherubino screenshot from www.janelear.com