Holidays and Festivals, Boston
I was hosted in Boston by my Italian friends, who happen to have only Italian or Hispanic friends!! Therefore, there was an interesting mix of cultures during our Easter lunch.
First off, for us people of Mexican origin Easter isn't a very important holiday and we don't make special lunches or dinners with family/friends... but this does seem to be a very important tradition in USA, especially on Easter Sunday. So we all grabbed the American tradition and got together for Easter Sunday, preparing a very international menu for the occasion.
The menu included as an entree some smoked and/or dry fish; then we had:
* Pork chops baked and prepared with a special recipe from my Italian friend and home owner;
* Mexican sopes (small corn tortillas slightly "bowl"-shaped so you can put whatever topping you prefer on them) which we prepared with beans, cheese & chorizo (a sort of sausage but more fatty and slightly spicy); these were brought from Chicago by one of my friends' friends, of Mexican origin;
* A special salad prepared with something called "dandelion" (some green leaves which, according to my friends, are very difficult to find and which they can only find at one single shop in Boston);
* And as dessert we ate a special Italian cake called Colomba, which is a soft sweet bread with almonds and crystalized fruit that they prepare in Italy especially for Easter season. We actually purchased the cake in an Italian-products shop in the North End. Oh and of course.... wine! I think at least one of the bottles we drank was Italian too and everyone was satisfied with the flavour and quality of the beverages!
I loved the way all of our cultures got mixed in this special lunch where we all had a great time thanks to our hosts and shared a little bit of our roots! And I even got to eat some Mexican food while away from home, besides of tasting new stuff.... Wonderful people and a wonderful experience!
Grazie! Gracias! Thanks!
The North End, Boston's "Little Italy", is home to many shops, restaurants, and bakeries, and best of all, old-world-style butcher shops, fish markets, and cheese shops.
During most weekends in the summer there is a festival to a saint, the biggest and best is the Festival of St. Anthony, which will be August 27-29 in 2004. The streets are blocked off, and vendors, performers, and people fill every inch. There is always a parade, sometimes with one of the saints carried around, as people hang out their windows and throw money down. It is a wonderful and fun experience!
I was fortunate to live in the North End for a couple of years, and my landlords ran a sausage stand out front of the building. With our windows open, the smoke and the smell blew through for days. When we went up to the roof, we had to duck under their homemade sausages, hanging across the doorway!
A tradition in Boston is a Boston Pops Orchestra performance on the 4th of July, followed by a spectacular fireworks display. It's a pleasant experience, but you have to be willing to get a seat hours in advance for a decent spot to see the fireworks, and unless you get there at the crack of dawn, you won't be able to sit where you can see the orchestra.
However, they broadcast the performance over speakers throughout the green by the Charles River, and the fireworks go off from a barge in the river itself. It was a spectacular show this year, and 600,000 people were crammed onto the green to watch it!
If you come to Boston for the holidays be sure to see the ice sculptures in the Common and Copley Square. A New Year's Eve tradition in Boston, the sculptures remain for the next few days after New Year's, and have always been a very local attraction, which is why I mention it in 'cultural tips'. The one pictured here represents Santa's sleigh. In the background you can see Beacon Hill's beautiful brick homes. Skating on the Frog Pond or Public Garden Pond combined with viewing the sculptures makes an all-around wonderful winter experience in Boston.