SeacoastNH Home

Seacoast New Hampshire
& South Coast Maine

facebook logo

facebook logo

SEE ALL SIGNED BOOKS by J. Dennis Robinson click here
Best Clam Chowder in the World

Great Gramap John Scott / Photo courtesy of Scott Garland


That thick white stuff with the flecks of pink and tiny potato cubes may be chowder to you. We call it a seafood frappe. Around the Robinson house, clam chowder is grayish, filled with whole clams, fresh potato and made with milk. It contains nothing else. That’s the way our Grampa Scott made it, and that’s the way we make it still.




A FEW WORDS on fried clams too   

If you want to pick a fight, don't talk to me about politics or religion. There's nothing much there I'd defend with my life. I don't care a lot for cars or sports or power tools. I'll eat what you serve me, wear what you knit me and go where you take me. I usually can't tell Brand A from Brand X and I think my mother actually did wear army shoes once during the war. No, it's pretty hard to rile me up on most topics. Just don't tell me you know chowder.

You don't know chowder. I know chowder. My whole family knows chowder. It's in our blood.

Grampa John Scott on the Worcester Fire Department / RobinsonYes, I’m descended from the Puritans, but I’m only a purist on this one issue. As far as I can determine, the earliest written record of our family's milk-based shellfish consumption is great-grampa John Scott's recipe for quahog chowder. John Scott is my father John Brewster's maternal grandfather. He married Nina who begat Flossie, the grandmother who married Jake Robinson, and Em, my father's uncle who married "Pearl" Stearns. Dad's aunt was actually called "Big Pearl" to keep her separate from her daughter "Little Pearl" whom we always knew as Tinker. There were a lot of interesting names back then, but you'd expect that of people who ate things called "quahogs" (say CO-hogs).

According to my mother Phyllis, who keeps track of these things, Grampa Scott was born in Pennsylvania in 1856, but moved to Western Massachusetts as a young laborer to blast the famous Hoosic Tunnel out of solid rock, linking the East and West by railroad. Dad says grampa used to crow about how the construction teams dug in from both sides simultaneously, and when the two crews met in the middle of the mountain, their separate tunnels were just half an inch apart.

That done, he married Nina and settled in as a Worcester firefighter riding the back wheel of a great horse drawn hook and ladder rig. According to family legend, John Scott never learned to drive an automobile because the wheel in his fire engine required him to turn left in order to swing the ladder right. Grampa figured that after 30 years turning a steering wheel the wrong way, he'd never learn to do it correctly.

When he retired in 1921 aged 65, John Scott was told his years were numbered due to a heart condition, so from April to October, he lived on the ocean in South Dartmouth near Cape Cod. When my father was young, due to his asthma, he moved from his parent's family farm in western Mass. to live with Grampa and Gram Scott. Apparently the salt air did its work because John Scott lived to age 89 and dad's still works out on his treadmill every morning. When I was little, we spent time each summer at either my father's family's camp or my mother's family's camp on Cape Cod. Her father was from Ireland, but that’s a story for another day.

So where was I? Oh, yes, quahogs. In one of my earliest memories, I'm sitting in a wooden boat that my father is towing as he wades along the mucky clam flats, tossing in these giant clams. When I mentioned this image to my mother, she went right to the photo album and pulled out the scene. In the fuzzy picture I'm just on the tepid side of two years old and wearing a captain's cap. She says we were at Pochasset near her parent's camp, which I remember mostly for the mountain of clam, quahog, oyster, muscle and scallop shells that rose into the sky from the sandy back yard.

CONTINUE clam chowder artilce

Please visit these ad partners.

News about Portsmouth from

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 
Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.

Copyright ® 1996-2016 All rights reserved. Privacy Statement
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Site maintained by ad-cetera graphics