Mister Flytch's Fish Chowder
First, go to sea and catch some fish. Or you could buy some at the market, of course. Cod, sole, halibut, haddock -- these are the sorts of fish the pirates used, nice firm white-fleshed fish. For the modern human, a block of frozen Boston Bluefish or pollock, or a tin of chicken haddie, works nicely. And you don't have to gut it, which helps keep the deck of your ship clean. Your fish should be in small, boneless pieces. Nobody likes finding bones in their chowder.
Peel some potatoes, a good double handful of them or more if you have small hands, and chop them up. Peel and chop up an onion. Dump the potatoes, the onion, some parsley if you have any, and the fish, into a big pot. Add just enough water to cover it, put a lid on, and simmer until the fish is cooked and the potatoes are tender. Add salt to taste and lots of pepper and a dollop of butter.
Add some cream or whole milk. This can be tricky if you're at sea. Mirimick told me that the thing to do if you're close to land is to row ashore with a pail, sneak into someone's pasture, find a cow who looks friendly, and help yourself. Personally, I don't think this is a good idea. It's stealing, and although we Old Things have a reputation for stealing milk, the truth is we always ask the cow's permission first. Humans can't do this, since humans and cows can't talk to one another. So don't do it. Just go to the farmhouse and ask. Or buy milk at the market where you bought the fish. Or do what the pirates did when they were making chowder at sea, which was to make chowder without milk. Modern humans, of course, have found a way of keeping milk in tins as well as fish, and evaporated milk is now traditional in fish chowders, even when fresh milk and cream is easy to get.
Humans are funny that way.
Don't boil your chowder after the milk goes in, because it might curdle. (That's what Mister Flytch said, anyway.) Just keep it nice and warm. You can add more parsley now, so it will be green and pretty floating on the chowder. Mirimick told Mister Flytch that pirates don't need to have pretty food. Mister Flytch said that being a pirate was no reason not to cultivate an aesthetic sensibility.
While they were arguing, the rest of us ate the chowder.
Ship's biscuits, or hardtack, are often eaten with chowder. (It's a good way to soften the biscuits up.) You can use "flaky pilot biscuits" if you can find them, since these are a nicer version of ship's biscuit, or just eat your chowder with soda crackers.
© 2006 K.V. Johansen