Chowder comes from the French word "chaudiere," meaning "large copper pot." In Brittany, fishermen would combine their fish in one of these pots, add spices, and share the resulting soup. This custom traveled with the Bretons to Newfoundland and then down to New England.

Roger's New England Clam Chowder

2 dozen chowder clams (quahogs) - you can use frozen clams, if necessary, one box should be enough
3 cups white wine
1/2 pound salt pork or fat back, diced fine (bacon can be used, if necessary)
4 Tablespoons butter (not margarine)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 bay leaf
pinch of thyme
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream

Steam the clams in the wine until they just open.  Remove and strain the liquid.  Reserve.  When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from the shell and chop them.  Set aside.  In a large skillet, cook the salt pork until crisp.  Drain and discard the fat.  In a large pot, melt the butter with the oil and add the onions, celery, bay leaf, thyme, and crisped pork.  Cook until the vegetables are softened and translucent.  Add the reserved clam juice and bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes, milk, and cream.  Cook until the potatoes are just cooked, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Add the chopped clams and bring the chowder to a slow boil, stirring occasionally.