John Curtas is …

Here’s To You, Beantown!

ELV note: Rather than wallowing in all the teeth-gnashing/faux sympathy* that grips our media and too many people when national tragedy strikes, we at ELV thought a short love letter to a traumatized city was in order.

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How do I love Boston? Let me count the ways.

Bostonians have the strangest accents in America — like someone put da Bronx, Chee-KA-goe, and some low-end Limey in a blender and out those sounds came. But, like the city it reflects, those accents have an impenetrability and charm all their own.

Trying to drive in Boston is like trying to converse with a Laplander in a driving snowstorm. The streets make absolutely no sense, and you can actually throw a stone at a building without being able to find a roadway which leads your car to its front door.

Boston is also the sports bar capital of the universe. I was once strolling around the Faneuil Hall/North End (in the early Fall) and found myself surrounded by a dozen bars within 50′ of each other, each packed with TVs blaring football, baseball and hockey to packed houses. It was like a horror show hall of mirrors for a non-sports fan, but business as usual for Beantown.

Beans (and food generally) being my speciality, I must note that Boston steadfastly refuses to jump on the haute cuisine bandwagon (with a few, fine exceptions – thank you Lydia Shire), despite having the bounty of the sea right out its front door. Instead, it steadfastly holds on to its baked beans, brown bread, bad pot roast and scrod traditions. Worst of all, in a half-hearted attempt to escape these roots, fifteen years ago the city inadvertently hatched the single, biggest douchebag — Todd “Behold My Chin” English – in the history of chef-dom.

But even those negatives (English excepted) have their appeal. Boston is home to America’s oldest restaurant — the Union Oyster House, est. 1826):

http://www.plentyoftwenties.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/union-oyster.jpg

….and I have whiled away many a pleasant afternoon sipping a pre-corporate-buyout-Sam Adams (Bostonians don’t trust anyone who knows too much about fine wine) and slurping down a few dozen bivalves whilst taking good-natured abuse from its shuckers. (Easiest way to start a conversation at any bar in Boston – oyster or otherwise – just say “How ’bout those {Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots}?” and you’re set for an hour.

Let’s see: antiquated food, impossible streets and sports-crazed people with impenetrable accents….what’s not to like?

To quote J. J. Hunsecker (to Sidney Falco): “I love every inch of this dirty town.” Because it’s one of a kind. Sui generis. A true, American original.

Here’s to you, Boston! Long may your idiosyncrasies wave!

p.s. All of this reminiscing has made me hungry. Could someone please get me a Regina pizza?

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* Memo to all who post things on Facebook like: “My heart goes out to all the victims….” blah, blah, blah: Everyone (except the murderers and a few heartless assholes) feels sympathy for the victims. Your heartfelt “emotions” are nothing more than solipsistic, self-serving, public displays designed to make you feel better and draw attention to your needy ego. They have nothing to do with the victims. If you really feel so much for the poor people living through this tragedy, pray for them, and leave your needless wailings to yourself.

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3 Responses to Here’s To You, Beantown!

  • Disown (maybe shoot?) whoever has taken you around Boston. Union Oyster is a tourist trap, as is Faneuil Hall & much of the North End.

    In brief, in Boston, I’d suggest:

    Menton for French http://mentonboston.com/
    O Ya for Japanese (sea) http://www.oyarestaurantboston.com/
    Yakitori Zai for yakitori (ahem) http://www.yakitorizai.com/

    or venturing across the river to Cambridge for:
    Craigie on Main http://www.craigieonmain.com/
    maybe Yume Wo Katare for ramen.

    Respect for brevity prevents my writing all afternoon about other worthy eateries.

    -SD

    (I never leave ELV at home when in Vegas.)

  • Not a bad analysis, all in all. But what Bostonians from my generation grew up with were subs and pizza. I’m proud of the fact that we had the worst cuisine in America, and the worst school lunches. Can you say fish cakes, baked beans and brown bread?

  • I’m going to help reinforce the Bostonian provincialism stereotype by commenting again.

    Max: As awful as Boston’s eating scene was in generations past, I would have thought that you would have sang a eulogy to The Bean’s once strong but now dead Ashkenazi delis, in particular those of disappeared like Atlantis Jewish Dorchester. If you haven’t been to Eastie as of late, check it out – it’s like a tour of Latin America, I’d suggest Bolivian salteñas from Que Padre in particular. Take John with you, and get pizza from Santarpios while there.

    It makes me cringe that people might associate Boston with Todd English. I hear that he’s broke (or near), so maybe there really is good in this world.

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