TNB Night Owl – The Evil Tomato

Clam chowder, photo by Jen

I confess, I love soups. My first (and often my second, and third, etc…) time visiting a restaurant, I will check to see if they have soup on the menu and, should it not be too expensive, I’ll order it. I don’t always enjoy them, but I feel the urge to sample because they’re soups.

I don’t savor them slowly. Any place which provides a mere six ounces for a cup earns mild enmity from me, because it’ll be gone in under two minutes. But I enjoy the thin broths, the silken creams, the mild unctuousness of grain-laden soups which have been thickened by slow dissolution of barley or rice.

One particular favorite is clam chowder. I enjoy it enough that I’ve learned some odd trivia about it, such as the existence of Rhode Island clam chowder. or the fact that people will regularly pay more than $5/can for the less than ideal Chunky Manhattan style on Ebay (just make your own, people!) There’s something else particularly noteworthy about clam chowder, though… and that’s that I’m far from the only person who takes it seriously.

While various locality feuds have become famous… where the first Philadelphia cheesesteak was created, or which of the handful of claimants truly made the first bloody mary… clam chowder holds the unusual distinction of getting the law involved. Not merely a local constabulary, either; we’re talking about a state legislature.

A food writer for the New York Times in 1986 provided some information about a bill in Maine from 1939. State lawmakers, upset about the contamination of their beloved soup in what was derisively termed the “Manhattan” style, introduced a bill making it illegal to put tomatoes into any soup called clam chowder.

Saner heads prevailed; the bill did not make it through both chambers and onto the Governor’s desk. And while it’s oddly comforting to know that there are people out there who take such things more seriously than I do… I’m not strange, they’re strange… I’m less delighted with the notion that they made it into the state’s congress, even if it was more than 75 years ago.

Thankfully, we’re far past such craziness now.

Question of the night: You know I have to ask… what’s your preferred soup?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.