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.

History of Chowda

When the Boston Red Sox play the New York Yankees, may heaven help the city who hosts this contest because things will definitely get “rowdy!” The rivalry between these two teams is so mighty, extra police presence is required around the venue, bars and restaurants pack extra tables and chairs in place, and ticket prices skyrocket to an unaffordable level for the average fan. The rivalry between these two cities has grown out of the ball park and has extended to all manner of competitive things. One that immediately comes to mind is that of Clam Chowder.

In 1836, clam chowder was already well-known in Boston and served at Ye Olde Union Oyster House, the nation's oldest continuously operating restaurant. I’ve had the Clam Chowder at Ye Olde Union Oyster House and I will tell you, rivalry be damned, it was among the creamiest, freshest, and finest bowls of Chowder I’ve ever eaten! I highly recommend it.

Manhattan style clam chowder came later, circa 1930 with the addition of tomatoes in place of milk, the work of Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island, as tomato-based stews were already a traditional part of Portuguese cuisine. Scornful New Englanders called this modified version "Manhattan-style" clam chowder because, in their view, calling someone a New Yorker is an insult (of course).

Boston style Clam Chowder is white, creamy, and packed with clams and potatoes:

Manhattan style Clam Chowder is red, tomato based, and packed with clams and few (if any) potatoes:

I find both styles delicious. Personally, I would never order creamy white chowder while I was in New York, and I’d be fooling to expect a decent bowl of red chowder if I were in Boston. “Go with the local specialty,” is my motto!

Traditional Rhode Island clam chowder has clear broth. “Clearly” less popular than the other two, these chowders are still served, especially at long-established New England restaurants and hotels. Creamy chowders are available, but you’ll find the natives sitting in front of a bowl of clear broth chowder.

People in Delaware actually put fried cubes of salted pork in their clam chowder. Personally, I think that’s crazy so I won’t even dignify such a recipe with a response. Your mileage may vary…