Q: What is the difference between soup and chowder? A: Technically, a soup is any combination of meat, fish or vegetables in a broth. A chowder is a...

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Q: What is the difference between soup and chowder?

A: Technically, a soup is any combination of meat, fish or vegetables in a broth.

A chowder is a thick soup that usually contains seafood and potatoes as its primary ingredients (clam chowder is the most common), though the term often is used more loosely in describing any rich, chunky soup.

The word “chowder” is derived from the French “chaudiere,” the term for a caldron that fishermen traditionally used to make stews from the day’s catch.

Few dishes are more comforting than a bowl of classic New England clam chowder.

Purists argue about precisely how the soup should be prepared — some insist on salt pork instead of bacon, others want no seasonings but salt and pepper.

Q: What’s the etiquette for taking cellphone calls in public?

A: Etiquette experts agree that impolite cellphone use is a common annoyance. Fortunately, there are guidelines for what constitutes courteous use.

At an event where interrupting the proceedings would be impolite — for example, weddings, religious services and movies or plays — a cellphone should be turned off.

When you are socializing, it is polite to keep the ringer off. If you are expecting an important call, set the phone to vibrate and inform others in advance that you may be answering it. When answering, move to another room or keep the conversation as short as possible.

Remember that it’s impolite to answer a cellphone while someone is in mid-sentence.

For enclosed public spaces — in a store or a library, or on a bus — set the ringer to vibrate. This way you can discreetly check who is calling, evaluate the importance of the call and excuse yourself to address it elsewhere, if possible.

In casual environments — while you’re at a park, say, or walking down the street — it’s appropriate to leave the ringer on. In these cases, keep the phone easily accessible so you can answer calls quickly.

When speaking on the phone, be considerate to those around you.

Remember, poor reception isn’t solved by speaking loudly. Wait until you have privacy to discuss highly personal subjects or confidential business matters.

Questions may be sent to mslletters@marthastewart.com or Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 11 W. 42nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10036. Sorry, no personal replies.