Award-winning Clam Chowder

Bill Smith's Martha's Vineyard Clambake Co.

A true story from the 2008 Taste of the Vineyard.

... So there I was, standing behind our table at the 2008 "Taste of the Vineyard" handing out cups of our delicious Bill Smith's Clam Chowder when this college-aged native Vineyarder comes wandering up accompanied by his very sophisticated lady friend.

"Some Clam Chowder?" I ask, brandishing a paper chowder cup full of heavenly delight toward him.

"Wow, Bill Smith's Clam Chowder," he exclaims, "Absolutely!"  I hand him the cup and commence to fill one for his lady friend.

"None for me," she exclaims, "I HATE Clam Chowder, Ugghhh!" She shudders, then continues, "We have lots of seafood places in California and they all serve clam chowder -- and it is ALL absolutely yucky!"

"Have you ever tasted real New England Clam Chowder?" I asked.
"Yeah," she replied, "I tasted some in Boston and guess what, YUCKSVILLE!"

"Do me a real big favor," I asked with humble innocence, " Just take one taste, one small spoonful, and see if it is as awful as the others you have tried."

After a bit of urging from her boyfriend, she consented and cautiously drew a partial spoonful of our light, savory, broth from the cup, Slowly, she raised the spoon to her lips, her nose already wrinkling in anticipation of a thoroughly unpleasant experience.  The spoon touched her lips.  An immeasurably small quantity of broth entered on her tongue

Her eyes widened.  Her nose unwrinkled and her nostrils opened wide in surprise.  The rest of the contents of the spoon disappeared between her red lips which then uttered a surprised "Ohhhh!"

"It's GOOD!" she exclaimed in surprise.

Her boyfriend grinned, "Yeah, that's Bill Smith's famous Clam Chowder."

I grinned also, and filled one of our sample chowder cups nearly to the brim before offering it to her.  She returned several time during the evening, another convert to the delightfully unique recipe that is Bill Smiths famous Clam Chowder.

Chowder the Old Fashioned Way!

CLAM CHOWDER was made originally with an almost clear broth. Sometime during the 19th Century, when milk became more readily available, someone added it to the broth and the creamy flavor was universally liked.

Nobody seems to know when thickeners started being added ... some blame it on Campbell Soup's introduction of their canned New England Clam Chowder. Certainly, some "big city" chefs from the mid-west -- who were experienced in making CORN chowder -- came East and started adding thickener to make it more like what they expected a chowder base to be.

At Bill Smith's Martha's Vineyard Clambake Co., we continue using Bill's original recipe.  Our unique Clam Chowder still uses a light broth.  We adhere to the ideal of our New England ancestors and refuse to bend to the trend of those famous (infamous?) New York chefs who insist that chowder should be gluey enough to stick to your palate, thick enough to chew like bread.