Sunday, March 16, 2008

Holy Cannoli!

My husband's friend T is in town, so we finally made the trek into Boston to explore a little bit. Our initial plan was to take in the Boston St. Patty's Day Parade, but we didn't quite make it out the door in time. In order to complete our experience, we decided to park at Alewife and take the T into town. I am SO GLAD we did, because my throat was constricting just at the thought of navigating the teeny tiny streets that make up the North End.

After a pleasant ride in, we exited at Haymarket, and walked straight over to the Union Oyster House, which is the oldest Restaurant in Boston, and the oldest restaurant in the United States that has been in continuous service; since 1826 its doors have always been open to diners. The historian in me was bursting with excitement and I reached for my camera so that I could look like the ultimate dorky tourist. Instead, I had the ultimate in disappointment; I had forgotten it at home. I guess that's the good thing about actually living here; I don't have to worry about not having my camera to capture permanent tourist sites...I can just go back next week!

After eating a meal of simple seafood fare, we left the Oyster House and headed out for the tail end of The Freedom Trail, where we saw Paul Revere's House, The Old North Church and the large statue of Mr. Revere on his trusty steed. Walking along the sidewalks, the West-Coaster in my just could not get over how old everything was. The cobblestone under my feet and the physical lay-out of the buildings kept reminding me that this was not a city that was designed with the automobile in mind.

My friends kept telling me that if I were in the North End of Boston, I could not leave without stopping by Mike's Pastry and getting some cannoli to take home. I had only ever had supermarket cannoli, and had enjoyed it, so thought it would be a fun novelty. The experience itself was great. There was a line almost out the door, but the women packing and whirling twine around the pastry boxes were so efficient that I was through in no time. I was SO excited to see that my choice of cream-filled confection extended to chocolate-covered and/or dipped. I walked out of the store carrying my little parcel, anxiously awaiting the moment at home that I'd get to try my first 'real' cannoli.

After we'd wandered around and felt sufficiently cultured for the day, we headed back to the T station, and were quickly whizzing along the Pike with the box tucked safely at my feet. When the time had finally come to sample the lovely confections, I took my first finger swipe of the sumptuous ricotta cheese-based filling, and thought I would expire on the spot. I had to make a concerted effort to not allow my eyes to roll back in my head as I let the creamy goodness dissolve down my throat. Mmmmmm, sugary goodness. Almost immediately, C began wiggling and kicking to give his approval. All I can say is I'm sure glad the old blood-glucose test was returned normal, because this was one experience I'd have been loathe to miss. Now I understand why the Godfather was willing to forgo his weapons!

Most of all, I'm not more excited than ever to return to Boston and explore another small section of the fair city. One of the things that I feel so fortunate about living on the 'right' coast is that we have access to so many of the sites that are tied to the creation of our Nation as we know it today. For a history dork like me, who still wears her Phi Alpha Theta 'History: It's Happening' T-shirt at times other than to bed, it's enough to make what started as a three-year sentence to time away from family and friends (although I can no longer be sarcastic and act as though I haven't made friends here) a true adventure.

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