Saturday, October 24, 2009

Unexpected thing I learned from a book

Last week I read The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky. I love reading about food and Americana, so this book--a compilation of Depression-era writings about food from an abandoned WPA project--enticed me as soon as I saw it. The division by regions gave structure to the book, and made it even more informative.

However, my favorite bit of knowledge gleaned from this book was personal. I have always felt a bit of an inferiority complex about my clam chowder. You see, it has bacon. We like it that way. I grew up with it that way. My mom made it that way, and she learned from my dad's mom. But what restaurant clam chowder has bacon? I always figured this was some Hoosierizing of the dish.

But, as I learned, I was mistaken.

One of the oft-debated, but very authentic ingredients in real New England Clam Chowder, is salt pork or bacon. Which is then removed and the onions sauteed in the grease. That's what I do. Some add it back in; some don't. I do. My grandma was a Ruhl. Her mother was a Harrod. Her grandmother was a Pipes. HER grandmother was a Harriman from New Jersey and HER mother was a Hathaway from Massachusetts.

That's in New England. That's about the only part of my family tree that has roots in New England. But I like to think that that is where the clam chowder came from.


Marie N. said...

I make mine with bacon too :-) I've enjoyed clam chowder (New England style, *not* Manhattan style) my whole life, but the best Id ever had was in northwest New York -- not New England, but the closest I've come to New England. The lady whose restaurant we visited made her chowder with bacon, whole clams and lots of cream.

Colleen said...

Hello! I love your blog, just wanted to say hello! I am also a pastors wife, living in Colorado. If you want to ever stop by my blog, maybe we could connect!

Pathel said...

Any luck in getting your recipe, my family loves chowder but I have yet to find a good recipe. Of course, maybe its because my cooking skills are subpar....

Glenda said...

I make mine with bacon too!

I got the recipe from cookbook I received as a wedding gift, "Hoosier Favorites." The author of the recipe.................................................

Barabara Bush.
We love it.