My grandma is giving me her Gourmet collection in two year increments; I'm currently jamming on 1994-95. The most curious thing about these issues is the art department stuff. The photographs have such a different quality. I guess they weren't digital? And what's really conspicuous is actually the lack of photography. There are so many articles accompanied only by illustrations -- spare line drawings by Merle Nacht that are often just in black and white. I really like them, even though they confuse me because I feel like I'm reading The New Yorker. A totally different time in food journalism. Can I be nostalgic for something I never really had?
This recipe for chowder looked interesting. When I was little my mom used to take me to Swanson's Fish when she did her errands there, and I would go nuts over the clam chowder samples and crackers. The chowder was all the color of cream (and maybe all cream), potatoes and clams floating undiscovered until you could taste them and feel their startlingly different textures. I remember ordering chowder once only to receive the Manhattan variety. What an utter disappointment. Where was the mystery there?
This recipe is actually what I think chowder should taste like. The addition of smoked fish is pretty great, too. The recipe calls for a full pound of it and only 3 slices of bacon, but I had half that amount of the trout, so I added more bacon. Also, for more 90s grooves, please please rent or take out from the library the Two Fat Ladies collection and watch season two, episode five. They go to a small Scottish town's smoke house to get kippers and smoked haddock, and then they cook breakfast for a lot of handsome men who work at a small brewery. And they're so obviously tickled by the whole thing.
Since we're living in the 21st century, nothing's real until it's been documented, and I can't draw, here's Swanson's. The picture is from their website.
Smoked Fish Chowder
adapted from Gourmet // March 1994
8 slices bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
10 oz frozen corn
10 oz frozen lima beans
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 to 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound smoked trout
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
In a heavy kettle, cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Add onions, just soften. Peel potatoes and cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Add the potatoes, celery broth, and water and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add lima beans and corn and simmer for five.
In a small bowl dissolve cornstarch and half-and-half, then stir into soup with Worcestershire. Bring soup to boil, stirring, and add fish. Stir in parsley and dill. (Reserve some for serving if you're feeling it.) So easy. Makes about 12 cups.