Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Book of Chowder

My other cook book from the Hospital.  The Book of Chowder.

Chowder came to North America about two and a half centuries ago.  The beginings of what may have become American chowders may have appeared first in smalll French fishing villages, possibly in Brittany.  By the early eighteenth century it had reached New Foundland, Nova Scotia, New England, and, in time, other English settlements to the south.

That chowder was born in France was first argued in the nineteenth century.  One writer traced its origin to the French chaudier, or cauldron.  Another added that in "the cabarets and guinsguette of little fishing villages along the coast of Brittany ici on fait la chaudiere is a frequent sign."

As early as the sixteenth century the words chowder and chowter, dialect variations of jowder, meaning a fish-seller, were known in Cornwall and Devonshire.  By the mid-eighteenth century, and probably well before then, the English ate chowder.  In 1762 Tobias Smollett had a character in one of his novels say, "My head sings and simmers like a pot of chowder,"

All sea dishes had to accommodate themselves as to what was at hand.  When the crew of the whaler Pacific, out of New Bedford went ashore in a quiet cove in New Zealand in 1857 they took with them potatoes, biscuits, and a piece of salt pork.  a fire was started, friendly Maoris collected mutton-fish, warreners, and limpets - all shellfish new to the crew - one man volunteered to act as cook, and all soon enjoyed an 'Excellent dinner' of chowder.

There's a lot more history on chowders, but I thought these were some interesting facts.


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