In the Spiritual Birthplace of Buca di Beppo

Boston is the birthplace of a lot of things. Benjamin Franklin, for example. Cream pie and the American revolution.

As I discovered recently staying at a sweet Airbnb next door to the 17th-century Copp’s Burying Ground in the city’s historic North End, it is also birthplace — or at least the contemporary ground zero — to a certain style of Italian/American dining best exemplified by the chain restaurant, Buca di Beppo.

Waiting for our table in the North End

Buca di Beppo, it turns out from 45 seconds of web research, was actually born in the basement of a Minneapolis building. But it is less the actual brand I refer to than a uniquely American approach to Italian dining. Witness La Famiglia Giorgio’s, a three decade-old institution noted by Boston magazine for its “giant portion sizes” and specialties such as “eggplant parmigiana and steak pizzaoila.” Or the similar Giacomo’s, located nearby, and known for “piles of butter-saturated garlic bread and heaping portions of chicken Parm and marsala”.

In other words, not exactly authentic, regional Italian cuisine. More

Advertisements

Eating New York

“Wait,” said my friend Scott a couple years back when I mentioned I’d never been to New York, “YOU have never been to New York??”

It was as if I had told him that I’d never seen a sunset or walked on a beach.

He was astonished that I — being the avid traveler and food and art lover that I am — had never been to the food and art capital of America.

“I’ve never had much interest in New York,” I said, which elicited a further jaw-dropped gape of astonishment. More

Goodbye, Year of the Taco

In the first weeks of January, I declared 2016 would be the “Year of the Taco” at Skinny Girls & Mayonnaise. And the year did not disappoint.

The last taco

The last taco

I ate delicious tacos in East L.A., Mexico and Hawaii. I added six new taco recipes — including air-dried pork, Veracruz-style fish and Oaxacan turkey mole — to a blog that already boasted nearly a dozen. It was a good year. More

Globalization, Topanga Style

Globalization is a bit of a loaded word these days. Obama likes it, but Trump sorta scrunches up his nose and waves his arms about it.

We celebrated the globalization of our own little coastal California canyon recently with “Heritage Day” in my 5th grader, Willa’s class.

The Heritage Feast

The Heritage Feast

“Dad, what’s our heritage?” Willa asked about a week before her heritage presentation was due. Her mother and I cobbled together an approximate lineage. Between the two of us, she was probably close to 50% Irish, I contributed my 25% Swedish, plus some English and Welsh; my wife added German and Norwegian, plus a bit more English and Welsh. More

Thankful (But Not for Grasshoppers)

I had just finished my last post about my pal Mike and his wife Bridget harassing me from Oaxaca with their photos and videos of delicious meals, when they returned — bearing gifts!

There was a lovely and colorful dishtowel, a jar of black mole paste which to this cook is as good as its weight in gold, and there was a small jar of chapulines — roasted grasshoppers.

Chapulines

Chapulines

On the adventurous eater scale of 1 to 10, I consider myself about a 7. I’m no Anthony Bourdain. But I’ve recently been venturing more deeply into the euphemistically named world of “variety” meats, have sampled the slimiest offerings the world’s oceans put forth, and am a fan of such culinary curiosities as Japanese fermented natto and the stinking durian. There’s not a lot I won’t try, at least once. But one taxonomic class I have steadfastly resisted ingesting is that of the insect. More

Previous Older Entries