Chowder Talks Chowder

1201709562We can’t wait for the Super Bowl. Our (undefeated!) team is representing the AFC, which makes the food we associate with that Sunday in February even more delicious. While we’re busy cooking up some chili and shredding some cheddar for our nachos, Boston Mayor Tom Menino and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have engaged in a little friendly food bet.

Not only is it Patriots vs. Giants, Boston vs. New York, it’s Manhattan Clam Chowder vs. New England Clam Chowder.

New Englanders have always taken their chowder seriously. In 1939, a bill went before the Maine legislature that would have banned tomatoes from chowder. It seems that as a region we decided that clam chowder should consist of fresh clams, broth, potatoes, onions, salt pork, and milk. It’s a rich dish that somehow works both on a hot summer day, and as a thick soup perfect for a cold winter night.

But those New Yorkers had their own highfalutin’ ideas on what should be in a chowder. The tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder has its roots in Italian cooking, and got the snappy name in the early 1900’s. But we like the explanation given by Gourmet magazine best.

This dish originated in Rhode Island during the late 19th century, when, as story has it, Portuguese immigrants added tomatoes to their chowder. British New Englanders believed their creamy chowder to be superior and named the Portuguese version after Manhattan, presuming that New Yorkers were the only people crazy enough to add tomatoes.

We agree with that. Tomatoes are excellent in many things, but leave them out of our chowder.