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.

A taste of Rhode Island at The Mermaid Cafe

By Katie Warchut
A food adventure to sample some tasty hot wieners in Providence recently sent us on a hunt for some other typical Rhode Island foods, like Del’s frozen lemonade and coffee milk, to include in our video on theday.com. I don’t want to reveal any Day secrets here, but those drinks required a little bit of improvisation to shoot.
The clear broth Rhode Island-style chowder, however, was much easier to find this time of year and had another benefit: the discovery of a new restaurant in Westerly, The Mermaid Café.
We never would have stumbled upon it on our own, since it’s tucked into a marina on Margin Street along the Pawcatuck River, but it’s a nice spot for a sandwich or breakfast with river views.
I’m a New England traditionalist, meaning I normally order creamy chowder, but I may broaden my horizons after seeing the size of the clams in The Mermaid Café’s version.
They seem to do seafood well, and proudly serve other Rhode Island delicacies, such as clam cakes as a special and jonny cakes for breakfast – the cornmeal for “the original pancake” comes from flint corn, grown across the river at the historic Davis Farm.