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Although in the sixteenth century in Cornwall and Devon a dialect word "jowter" was used to describe hawkers, particularly fish-sellers, with later variants "chowder" and "chowter", this is not cited by the Oxford English Dictionary as a possible source due to controversy regarding the origins of the dish itself. The earliest citation the OED gives for the word used in its current sense of a fish-based stew is American. Other usage which attests to its use in England in the middle of 18th century is in a novel by Tobias Smollett in which one of the characters states, "My head sings and simmers like a pot of chowder". A Manx sailor in his memoirs refers to a meal made aboard a British ship on a voyage through the Caribbean in 1786: ". . . . we frequently served up a mess called chowder, consisting of a mixture of fresh fish, salt pork, pounded biscuit and onions; and which, when well seasoned and stewed, we found to be an excellent palatable dish. " Cookbooks of the period included recipes for "Chowder, a Sea Dish". In 1830 an English baked dish made with salmon and potato was called a chowder.

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