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Cooking it old school

Chowder is delicious, but it’s definitely not modern. It’s been around for hundreds of years, just like these recipes.

Much like the Union Oyster House, chowder has been around for hundreds of years.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/file

According to numerous accounts, one of the oldest-known printed recipes for fish chowder was published in the Boston Evening Post on Sept. 23, 1751. Seasoned with plenty of herbs and spices, it sounds pretty tasty, and the recipe rhymes: “First lay some Onions to keep the Pork from burning; Because in Chouder there can be not turning; Then lay some Pork in slices very thin, Thus you in Chouder always must begin. Next lay some Fish cut crossways very nice; Then season well with Pepper, Salt, and Spice; Parsley, Sweet-Marjoram, Savory, and Thyme, Then Biscuit next which must be soak’d some Time. Thus your Foundation laid, you will be able; To raise a Chouder, high as Tower of Babel; For by repeating o’er the Same again, You may make a Chouder for a thousand men.” Alas, like the technical challenge in the Great British Baking Show, they don’t share the amount of each ingredient, but for a thousand eaters, we’re thinking … lots.

Credited as the author of the first American cookbook, Amelia Simmons included a recipe for ‘chouder’ in the second edition of “American Cookery,” published in 1800. Her version went like this: “Take a bass weighing four pounds, boil half an hour; take six slices raw salt pork, fry them till the lard is nearly extracted, one dozen crackers soaked in cold water five minutes; put the bass into the lard, also the pieces of pork and crackers, cover close, and fry for 20 minutes; serve with potatoes, pickles, apple-sauce or mangoes; garnish with green parsley.” Interesting.


Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com