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To The North

Hello, everyone! So last time I had just finished talking all about Revere Beach and its ups and downs. Now, I need to pick up where I left off, with me on the porch of Linda’s house, and Martha and Linda chatting in the front room.


It was getting dark. So, I packed up my book and headed inside. The two of them were still busy talking, but, they were both tired. They’d both had long days, after all. So, to my surprise, Linda headed off to bed early, and Martha elected to join me as I headed off to dreamland. I’d figured sure they’d be up to midnight, but, exception that proves the rule and all that.


The next morning, we had breakfast with Linda and then headed out. She had work to do, and then she was looking after one of her sets of grandchildren. We, meanwhile, we’re headed once more to the Blue Line. But now we had a different destination. We were going to The North End.


What’s that? you ask, a smile of beaming intelligence on your charming face. Ah, so glad you asked, I reply. “The North End” is a neighborhood which is (surprise, surprise) north of the Faneuil Marketplace. It may be, in fact, the oldest neighborhood in Boston.(1)


I suppose I ought to explain what was drawing us there. The North End was always one of our favorite haunts when we lived in New England. We went there on many a Saturday, and almost always on our anniversaries. It, along with Bearskin Neck, was the place we went to celebrate.


Why? It is, supposedly, the Italian neighborhood of Boston -- the city’s version of New York’s Little Italy. This means it is full of cool little restaurants and cafes and shops, and has much local color.


And when we lived in Boston, we went there as often as we could. Along with Bearskin Neck, it was where we went for celebrations and anniversaries, and for just plain fun.


On this particular day, we took the T to Haymarket Station and walked from there. This used to be quite an adventure. Haymarket used to be the site of an open air market. There were stands and stalls everywhere, with people yelling and calling and offering their wares. There is still some of that going on, in fact, but it is on a smaller scale than it used to be. Urban reform, or whatever you want to call it, has driven much of that trade elsewhere.


Anyway, we walked through the market, then into the Rose Kennedy Greenway, over Cross Street, and finally into the North End. At that point, we were in a tangle of fabulous little streets, European in their complexity, and full of locals and many, Many, MANY tourists.


The question from then on was just where to go and in what order. After some debate, we decided we’d go first to Polcari’s Coffee, which is almost always our first port of call when we’re North End.



About the photos: Two today. First, Martha standing in front of Polcari’s.



Second, an interior shot of that marvelous shop.



This is (surprise) not one of our usual cafes. It is, instead, a kind of coffee bean and speciality grocery shop. It is one of those places you fall in love with, and for which you feel a sort of proprietary affection, even when it isn’t remotely yours, and when you’re no longer even in the area.


Anyway, the store is small, crowded, rich with scents and sensations. You can get whole coffee beans here, plus spices, teas, and more. Want a full-sized vanilla bean from Madagascar? Not a problem. As of March of 2023, they are $7.99 apiece. Believe me. It’s worth the cost. Or how about a pound of Italian chick beans? $5.99. Or, well, a whole lot of other stuff...


I’ll put a link to its webpage below -- see footnote #1 -- where you’ll find a great deal more information on the place, including pictures and its history. It’s old, by the way, at least by American standards. It was founded in 1932 by Mr. Anthony Polcari, a recent immigrant from Italy. The shop thrived, and he passed it on to his son, Ralph Polcari, who ran it for many years. He, in turn, passed it on to Bobby Eustace, the present owner. I’ve met Mr Eustace a couple of times, albeit only in passing. He’s a pleasant man and it would be interesting to talk to him at length.


That day, there was a small crowd, but it thinned while we looked about. Martha found some things -- things she can’t find in Georgetown. For her own use, she got a tube of sun-dried tomato paste. For our son, David, who is a rather talented cook, she got another tube, this one of anchovy paste.(2)


I paid and chatted with the clerks. I told them, in passing, that we hadn’t been shop for years. I guessed it was nearly ten years, now. Sadly enough. They joked. “Well, I’ll check, but if you left anything behind, it might not be here anymore.” I laughed and admitted that such might well be the case.


We finished our transaction and then Martha and I stepped outside. I took her picture as she stood in front of the shop. (I’ll post it below.)


The question was what to do now. We pretended that was anything to debate on that. But we knew. It had been decided long before.


It was time for lunch.


And that was going to be...the stuff of legend.


More to come.



Footnotes


1. Polcari’s Coffee has a website here: https://polcariscoffee.com/. Particularly check out the gallery, which is here: https://polcariscoffee.com/gallery/


2. You can get most things in Austin and other urban areas here in Texas, but it can be difficult to find everything you want for use in the kitchen once you’re into the suburbs or rural areas. David, our son, usually travels with his own block of hard cheese, just in case anyone tries to inflict the local variety of spaghetti on him.




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Care to help out?


I provide these blog postings for free. That’s fine and I’m happy to do so. But, long ago and far away, I was told that if you give away your material, that means you don’t really think it has any value.


So, to get beyond that, I’ve decided to make it possible for you to leave me a “tip” for my posts.


If you like what I write or the videos I produce, and feel you could make a small contribution to support my efforts, please go here:



That will take you to a Gumroad page where you’ll have the option of leaving me a few pence by way of encouragement.


Again, I don’t mind if you don’t. I just want to provide you with the option so that I won’t feel quite so much like I’m just tossing my works into the wind.


Either way, thanks hugely for dropping by the blog :-)


~mjt



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Copyright©2023 Michael Jay Tucker

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