Virginia Barton

25 May 2013: Despite a lot of angst, a successful chowder!

25 May 2013

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Well Doris, well Liz, I did it, but not without a lot of angst. Not since I last filled in a tax return have I lost so much sleep. Must admit to being rather sharp and snappy for a few days – acid is the word I’m looking for. All because I made the mistake of boasting that I could make a cracking good fish chowder. The gauntlet was thrown down, (in public of course) and why I didn’t keep my trap shut I don’t know.

I did make chowder once, about 20 years ago. A poppet called Belinda showed me how and very good it was. A rough recipe was scribbled into Cookie’s Scrapbook, but when I looked it over it seemed woefully inadequate. Hence my panic-stricken appeal last time I wrote in CP.

Thanks to Doris, Liz – and Belinda, I had a go yesterday. A foodie purist would sneer at the amalgam, but actually it was scrumptious and really simple if I hadn’t been in such a flap over it.

Nothing daunted that I had only a two pint pan, lots of everything was the clue – including white pepper: the Duchess in Alice’s Wonderland would have been proud of my sneezes. Also cloves which I had to pick out half way through as the whole kitchen reeked of them. And wine – I might have overdone that a bit as the milk promptly curdled. And yes I did add a few prawns, and a very American tin of Green Giant creamed sweetcorn.

0002000010591_500X500The guests, all in their eighties, were warned to be careful of bones, for no matter how careful one is there are bound to be strays and I don’t know how to do those Abdominal Thrust things when someone chokes. Thank the Lord no one did. They lapped it up, pepper, cloves and all!

It quite took us back to Faulkner, Lee, Hemingway and Steinbeck whose books are all sprinkled with refs to chowder – aren’t they? And that lovely author who wrote about the Mississippi delta, Eudora Welty, right? Perhaps it would be a good after-dinner game, matching food with writers, Chekhov perhaps, and the ever-present samovar. (Tea is not food Gin, unless you’re English or Irish – or Russian.)

So the chowder was a triumph and will now become a regular. BH (aka Better Half) hates fish but had two big bowls’ full. He also hates obvious herbs so no snippets to garnish and I couldn’t find the dill seed Belinda considered necessary except in a garden shop. Can she have meant those? I took no risks.

The only thing I should have asked you, Doris and Liz is: do you serve bread or crackers with chowder? I have a feeling it’s the latter, but crackers here, designated “cream” are rather boring cheese biscuits. If anyone asks, I’ll put my 4-handed recipe in the next CP. Go on, am longing to spread the word.


P.S. I have looked them up, those Thrust things. What I want to know is, how do you clasp your hands round someone’s middle, from behind, if they are huge? No way could I clasp round dear old BH’s middle. . .





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