I've had chowder on the brain ever since I attended a rally a couple of weeks ago at which I mistook the crowd's chant of "Louder! Louder!" as-- thanks to people blowing horns into my ears-- "Chowder! Chowder!" I was teased about it by a friend of mine (the proud owner of two hearing aids, no less) who leaned over to me afterward to say, "All this heat and talk of marriage is making me crave a hot, milk-based soup."
Sometimes, we hear what we want to hear.
I've been craving it ever since. Chowder, not marriage, I mean. Popping around the corner to Swan's Oyster Depot is easier said than done, thanks to the usual line several eaters-deep on any given day. And I don't want it from a can-- that's just too single-man-living-alone pathetic. And I'd hate to have anyone find the can in my garbage, because I have a reputation to protect. Since no one has offered me a steaming bowl of the stuff lately, nor is anyone on the horizon likely to, I knew I would have to make it myself.
But what kind?
There are any number of chowders to choose from. New England, Manhattan or Shrimp Chowder from the Gulf Coast? There are chowders made with oysters, with clams, lobster, crab, fish, and even corn. Thin and milky, or thick and creamy? There are as many types of chowder as there are people who make it. No two chowders are the same. There is not one particular recipe that defines the word, no matter what you might hear to the contrary. I have the feeling one could put Rice Krispies in a bowl with some potato, salt pork, and milk, heat it up and still get away with calling it a chowder, however the people of the North Atlantic Coast of this continent might complain.