Periodically I start to wonder about the typology of various kinds of foods—what makes a curry a curry? A chili a chili? A chowder a chowder? (I do occasionally wonder about foods not starting with the letter C, but those are my standbys.) For example, “curry” can’t be dependent on the presence of curry powder, which is a blend of spices rather than any single one, and it’s not the presence of curry leaves, which I’ve only ever seen in Sri Lankan curries. So I’ve decided that a “curry” is what English speakers call any stew with unfamiliar “ethnic” spices; otherwise it’s hard to figure out why we call both Thai dishes and Indian dishes “curries.” My Unified Theory of Curry fails to explain why we don’t call “exotically” spiced Ethiopian stews “curry,” but I’m willing to accept that the theory is not perfect.
If you have an opinion about the Unified Theory of Curry, please let me know. Now I want to talk about chowder.
My life was lacking in chowder for a long time, as I’m not the biggest fan of clams—the most conventional use for a chowder. But then I was exposed to fish chowder and corn chowder, and now the world of chowders is a beautiful, beautiful thing to me. According to the internets, what makes a chowder a chowder, as opposed to just a soup, is that it’s thickened in some way. Potatoes often do the job, but it seems that cream can as well. This corn chowder gets the job done with cream and pureed corn. I’m confident the corn chowder would be perfect on its own, but after a weekend in Tybee I was hankering for some crab, so I did some lily-gilding. I’d recommend that you do the same.
I also recommend, though, that you take pictures of your delicious corn and crab chowder before you start drinking wine, or else this might happen: