The One True Chowder
Want to start an argument? Ask three or four friends of Italian heritage how to make the best tomato sauce. Or ask your Vietnamese buddies what really goes into pho. Go on-line and ask how authentic Hungarian goulash is seasoned. Few things get people’s hackles up more than a perceived challenge to the way they prepare a culturally important food. I’ve definitely gotten myself mixed up in the long-standing almond vs. anise biscotti conflict.
Here’s the thing, though. The right way to make anything is the way you and your household likes it. Not a fan of oregano? Then leave it out of the tomato sauce. Nobody will die, I swear. Do you adore lemon grass? Add lots and lots to the pho- it’s your dinner! Never forget that you are a part of your food culture. The way you cook is automatically authentic because it is yours.
For New Englanders, “properly made” clam chowder is the subject of constant argument. The only thing we agree on is that tomatoes must absolutely not be added at any time for any reason. Everything else is up for debate. Should it be roux-thickened or brothy, sparsely seasoned or heavily herbed? Is any clam besides The Quahog acceptable? A recent relapse of wintery weather here in the north east, and a sale on canned clams at the market (no, I am not hung up on the quahog thing) gave me the inkling to DIY some chowder of my own. I like my chowder thin, not heavy. I believe in a well-seasoned broth with just a teeny splash of cream to finish. I also want some serious veggie action in there. Observe:
You may not like my clam chowder. That is perfectly okay because it means I do not have to share my leftovers, and it means you are more likely to make your own chowder the way you prefer it. Seriously, you should do it. Give it a try! Put your own signature on your DIYet and embrace your place in the food culture you live with. Let me know what you cook up in the comments!
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