Eating like a Local: Clam Chowder and Clam Cakes

Full disclosure readers - I'm not a Rhode Island native.  I grew up on the south shore of Massachusetts.  Despite many day trips to Providence and Rhode Island beaches during my youth and the fact that I have made Rhode Island my recent home, I have much to learn about the local culture and traditions.   And so I'll be sharing with you my adventures as I explore the state and will tie it all back in with our Rhode Island Collection materials. 

What better topic to start exploring than food?  My husband, having grown up in New Bedford, is a clam chowder connoisseur.  We headed out on a recent blustery day to Iggy's Clam Shack.  Now, we've been to the Warwick location before, but I had no idea that it is famous as the oldest beach stand in R.I. and was built in 1924.  Do any readers have historic photographs of Oakland Beach in Warwick that they would consider contributing to our collection?

In any event, I was suprised to be given three options for chowder when we placed our order:  New England clam chowder, Manhattan clam chowder OR Rhode Island clam chowder.  I was told by the person at the counter that the traditional Rhode Island clam chowder is a clear broth - basically the New England version before the dairy is added in.  I've since been reading online that this version is mostly a South County tradition.  I need to research this more fully. 

I went with the traditional New England clam chowder and some clam fritters, or as Iggy's calls them - doughboys.  And I will say - the chowder stood my husband's "standing spoon" test as evidenced by the photo.  In his opinion, it must be thick enough to keep a spoon standing on it's own.