The Whole Picture is Nothing But a Compilation of Details.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ethnic Culinary Encounter. Prior to Passport Control and Security Check.

19th Century Map of Boston 1838
(Bradford, T. G., Norman B. Leventhal
Map Center at the Boston Public Library,
Eager to skip the cold, wintery New England weather and begin our journey, we climbed into the car with our backpacks six hours before our flight was scheduled to depart. We could have stayed in the driveway enjoying the feeling of adventure stirring in our stomachs, but instead we fixed the headlights on our first destination: East Boston, known for over two centuries as Noodle Island after a Mr. Noddle who apparently settled here in 1629.

In 1922, East Boston had such a large number of immigrants that quotas were put in place. Italians lived in the area bounded by Maverick Square and Maverick Street, the docks to Central Square, Boarder Street, Porter Street to Boston & Maine tracks; Italians intermingled with Jews and Portuguese between havre, Chelsea, Porter and Paris Streets; Irish, British, Americans, and Jewish in area bounded by Porter Street to railroad to Prescott Street to Day Square to Chelsea Creek; Irish and second-generation Italians settled in the more affluent area east of Prescott Street. In the 70's, immigrants from Dominican Republic, Columbia and Central America added to the diversity and were followed in the 80's and 90's by Vietnamese, Blacks, and Asians (
Today this neighborhood, by some thought of as less affluent, is rich, yes, rich, with unpretentious restaurants and the availability of good, ethnic food is endless, be it Vietnamese, Mexican, or Cuban. The food is what matters as the atmosphere differs little from one place to another: cafeteria style metal chairs padded with red patent leather, paper cloths (which raises a question: Can you refer to "paper" as "cloth"?) protected by a sheet of clear glass, illuminated by bright, white, unforgiving fluorescent light. The obligatory TV's show soccer, or in lieu thereof, soap operas from the 70's. This is exactly what we came for: Scrambled eggs with sausage, alongside pupusas, refried beans, queso fresco, plantains, avocado and "crema" - that delicious and light non-cream, non crème fraîche, non sourcream cream often encountered in the vicinity of beans and rice. (I'll save you the image of brown refried beans.) The Irish ought to rethink their claim to fame.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nothing Ventured. Nothing Gained.

A voucher for a free flight with British Airways arrived in my email inbox late January.

Patagonia,  "The End of The World", had been the topic of conversation a few times in the relatively short time we´d known each other but since time and tide wait for no one, I forwarded the email with the curious mindset and hopes I have when I go fishing in the wrong spot with all the wrong gear: Hoping for a positive outcome but with no expecations, knowing full well that the alternate scenario is the more likely of the two. I hit "send". The email header was simply "Patagonia anyone?"

Expecting an answer "yes, but... work, family, money, vacation time..." common obstacles for even the most willing and spontaneous, I read the short, almost immediate reply. It was one word:


"Sure!" is hard to misconstrue. 

Six weeks later, we were standing on the doorstep of his house, packed and ready to leave. We´d known each other for three months.