“New England clam chowder, made as it should be, is a dish to preach about, to chant praises and sing hymns and burn incense before. […] It is as American as the Stars and Stripes, as patriotic as the national Anthem. It is Yankee Doodle in a kettle.”
That quote comes from early-20th-century writer Joseph C. Lincoln, a huge New England clam chowder fan. And here at Plated, we couldn’t agree more.
As the Super Bowl approaches, we’re taking a moment to discuss a dish we can all celebrate, no matter which team you’re rooting for.
What makes this world-famous stew so wonderful? Allow us to explain…
1. New England Clam Chowder Has Withstood the Test of Time
Though it’s impossible to say who made the very first batch, we do know that the dish was well known in Boston by the early-to-mid-1800s. Herman Melville even dedicated an entire chapter to the chowder in his 1851 classic Moby Dick. Over time, it grew more popular, becoming a culinary staple in the Northeast. This was when large amounts of milk and cream began to be added, giving the dish its characteristic look and texture. Today, it’s the region’s “marquee dish,” not to mention a Plated favorite.
2. New England Clam Chowder Is Hearty, Just Like a Chowder Should Be
The very word “chowder” comes from the Latin for “cauldron,” so you know it’s supposed to warm you up. Sure, you can enjoy chowder in the milder months. We even have a recipe for a lighter Summer Corn Chowder.
But now, in the dead of winter, we yearn for something heavier. Creamy and hearty, New England chowder sticks to your ribs on a February night when you’re staving off the cold and enjoying the athleticism of Tom Brady. Manhattan clam chowder, on the other hand, is thinner and has no cream or milk. (We love you, New York, but we prefer our chowder to be more like “chowda.”)
3. Its Flavor Profile Can’t Be Beat
Do you like seafood? Bacon? Onions sautéed in pork drippings? Well, put them all together and blow your taste buds. And don’t forget Plated Head Chef Elana’s absolute favorite ingredient: potatoes.
“I love New England clam chowder mostly because of all the potatoes in it. I’m kind of a potato fiend.” — Chef Elana
Pro tip: Sprinkle some Old Bay-sprinkled crackers on top, as the pièce de résistance.
4. Legislation Has Been Drafted to Preserve Its Perfection
New England clam chowder is so perfect—its ingredients in such delicious harmony—that, in 1939, a bill was introduced in the Maine legislature to make it illegal to alter the recipe significantly. Clearly, when it comes to their “chowdah,” New Englanders mean business. And we don’t blame them one bit.
5. It’s Emblematic, Not Just of New England, but of American Culture
Once you’ve been featured in a classic American novel and referred to as “Yankee Doodle in a kettle,” you’ve transcended your origins. After all these years nourishing the masses, first in New England and eventually across the country, the New England variety of clam chowder now represents a distinctly American dish.
Of course, you’re free to fill up your soup bowl however you’d like. You should always feel free to customize your chowder recipe to make it your own, suit your palate, and eat the way you want to.