The standard accompaniment to a clam chowder in America is crackers – perhaps originating from ship’s crackers used to thicken on-board fish stews. The cracker of choice is a ‘saltine’ cracker – or an oyster cracker, a small round puffy cracker with the taste of a saltine cracker. I admit that I have a programmed reaction to the combination of chowder and crackers, it triggers memories of childhood, of family, the beach and the sea. However, from a culinary point of view, the crackers are very salty and have a dull floury taste that’s nowhere near as delicious as a homemade crouton. So, if you need to trigger your own memories, or just see what all the fuss is about, you can buy your crackers from an online American food specialist – or you can make my homemade croutons.