It’s National New England Clam Chowder Day, and I could think of no way better to celebrate than to buy a cup of my favorite soup from one of Boston’s finest seafood vendors: Red’s Best. My husband and I swung by the Red’s booth at the Boston Public Market and bought one tuna poke bowl with pickled onions and cucumbers, one seared tuna over citrus slaw, and two cups of New England clam chowder.
New England clam chowder dates back to the 1700s. It was thought to have been introduced to the northeast region by French or English settlers, and is known for a cream-based broth, potatoes, and locally caught clams, of course.
Manhattan clam chowder, much less popular in New England and across the U.S., was introduced in the early 1900s, and is made with a tomato-based broth, giving it a distinctly red color. According to author Molly O’Neill in her book New York Cookbook, a Maine legislator in 1939 actually tried to outlaw the use of tomatoes in clam chowder. He did not succeed in passing that bill, and subsequently other versions were born in New Jersey, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and Florida. New England clam chowder is the only version that has its own national holiday though. Just saying.
Alice Kathryn Richardson is a new media photojournalist and creator of The Clean Food Club. She previously spent two years working on Deserts in the District, a series of short-form documentaries exploring food access and hunger in Washington, DC. She is committed to supporting local and sustainable food businesses by telling their stories with photo and video. Follow her on Twitter @AKR_Pictures.