By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert
Happy 237th Birthday United Stated of America!
As one of the 13 founding colonies whose fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, brave and beautiful Boston glistens with patriotic history, culture and charm. This waterfront city and economic hub of New England is filled with landmarks and traditions initiated by English settlers dating back to 1620.
The places where the trials, tribulations and triumphs that occurred to establish new liberties include Paul Revere’s Ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Boston Tea Party. See them all by strolling the 2.5 miles brick-lined Freedom Trail. There are 16 historically significant sites to see along the way from meeting and state houses to museums, churches and cemeteries. In fact, it was at Old North Church where Paul Revere triggered the famous signal and cry that began the War of Independence in 1775. If you prefer to ride rather than walk, hop aboard a Boston Trolley Tour or the Boston Duck Tour which uses WWII amphibious vehicles that work on land and water with a time upon the Charles River.
Beacon Hill & the Back Bay flaunt scenic brownstone architecture, and fine shopping and eateries as well as Boston Commons and Boston Public Garden, home of the gliding Swan Boats and the bronze statues of “Make Way for Ducklings” story fame. Art lovers can enjoy the incredible Museum of Fine Arts or the small and refined Isabella Gardner Museum highlighting impressionist pieces. Presidential highlights are the impressive JFK Library, home to President John F. Kennedy’s treasures or Peacefield House, the homes and libraries of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
And thank John Adams for initiating the illuminating tradition of celebrating America’s birthday with fireworks!
Boston bustles with numerous prestigious academic institutions. The alma mater of many famous politicians, captains of industry and entrepreneurs, venture to acclaimed Harvard University in Cambridge is a memorable excursion. Cambridge is also the former neighborhood of culinary icon Julia Childs. Two of her favorite foodie haunts are still there and are well worth a visit. Savenor’s is your ultimate gourmet market and Harvest Restaurant highlights New England cuisine at its best.
Faneuil Hall was originally the stomping ground for other merchants, fishermen, meat packers and produce sellers and was gifted to the city in 1742 by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil. In 1826 Mayor John Quincy expanded the ever-growing arena to include Quincy Market. Today, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, consists of those as well as North & South Markets all in one location. Set around cobblestoned streets, this burgeoning urban central meeting place hosts an array of shops, cafes and restaurants offering Boston specialties (see below). To sip and savor dishes flavored with history, dine at Union Oyster House, America’s oldest restaurant founded in 1826. For Italian fare head to the acclaimed North End also known as the city’s Little Italy. Enjoy Boston!
SAIL: Boston, Massachusetts. Before sailing away, bring the flavors and flair of Boston home. Whimsical Gurgling Cod fish jugs and fine porcelain and crystal tabletop pieces with iconic city images are sold at Shreve Crump & Low, Boston’s oldest boutique opened in 1796. Tasty gifts are cranberries, Boston Baked Bean Candy (red chocolate covered peanuts) or Boston Harbor Tea. As a major player in sports, any item supporting the Boston Red Sox, the Celtics, the Bruins or the New England Patriots are fun mementoes too.
SIP: Cape Codder. This cranberry juice and vodka cocktail with a lime wedge pays homage to the state’s biggest agricultural commodity harvested off the Eastern seaboard of Cape Cod. American Henry Hall farmed the first cranberries in 1816 yet it was Ocean Spray, a Massachusetts company, who created the Red Devil in 1930 to promote their cranberry juice mixed with a spirit. In 1960, they changed the name to the Cape Codder when the Kennedy clan made Cape Cod a popular destination. They also devised the Rose Kennedy version, named after the President’s mother, who liked to add a splash of club soda to hers. Beer drinkers can enjoy a local Samuel Adams brew.
Bostonians know how to serve it up! Big in the fishing industry, Boston Scrod “Seaman’s catch received on deck” is white fish and usually cod or haddock. Clams abound in the famous white creamy chowder or are great fried, steamed or stuffed while oysters and lobster are abundant too. If you prefer meat, try molasses sweetened Boston Baked Beans or steamed Brown Bread. Both are side dish staples taught to the Pilgrims by the Native Americans in 1620. Finish with a slice of Boston Cream Pie, the official dessert of Massachusetts, which is not really a pie but two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla custard and topped with chocolate glaze. All Boston bites are delicious!