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When most people think of chowder, they think of clam chowder, or maybe seafood chowder, which are the familiar varieties along both coasts. But inland Americans have their own chowders, too, starring ham or chicken or maybe just vegetables. The common denominator among nearly all of them is the presence of potatoes. In fact, did you know that Edwards County, Illinois, is the Chowder Capital of the World? So ordained the county commissioners in 1958 as a salute to downstate chowder. Also known as southern Illinois chowder, downstate chowder bears virtually no resemblance to seafood chowder. It is a hunter-farmer dish made with beef and / or chicken (and, historically, squirrel) along with beans, cabbage, and tomatoes. Chowder season starts when tomatoes ripen and ends with the first frost. Rarely a one-family meal, downstate chowder is cooked at church suppers, fundraisers, and community events which are themselves known as “chowders.” Large cauldrons are used over open fires and two cooks are necessary: one to continuously stir the stew with a long-handled paddle, the other, known as the bone picker, to grab pieces of meat, remove the bones, and return the meat to the pot.