In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, my birthday is sometimes over-looked. I guess it’s my fault for deciding to be born six weeks early, on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, there is one tradition that is never forgotten. Every year for my birthday di
nner, we have Chowder. I grew up in Maine and am a seafood junkie, so I had always assumed the roots of this tradition were all about me! But, while doing some research on one of my personal lines a few weeks ago, I came to the realization I was wrong.
My great-grandmother made the chowder every year when I was young. Looking back, that is the only time I recall seeing her ever touch a stove… She wasn’t your average plump, always pulling cookies out of the oven grandma type, Bram had that extremely fashionable, elegant, on the cover of a magazine type aura about her. I was doing some reading on Long Island, Maine, where she and several generations before her were born, when it all fell into place…
Long Island has long been famous for Chowder and Clam Bakes, drawing locals and visitors alike. A single event in the mid to late 1800’s was likely to draw upwards of two or three thousand visitors to their island which is less than 1.5 square miles! With multiple generations having been born and raised in such an environment, there’s no doubt the tradition and the “family recipe” are much more than just my birthday dinner.
I wonder how many traditions have greater roots than we assume. At the end of this Holiday season, dig a little deeper and see if there is more to those family traditions than you thought.
Here’s our family recipe:
Put 2 potatoes per person (diced) in a large pot. Boil potatoes with just enough water to cover the potatoes with a tablespoon or two of onion. Boil until just barely cooked. Do not drain. Add 1 can of clams (per 3-4 potatoes), 1 can evaporated milk, a hunk of butter, dash of whole milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Oyster Crackers.
1. Fish Chowder: Add Fresh Haddock when potatoes are halfway done (omit clams)
2. Lobster Chowder: Substitute Lobster (cooked) for Clams
3. Corn Chowder: Add a can of sweet corn, omit Clams (corn can be added to any of the chowders)