Paul Revere ate here! You can too.
Boston is a great food city. It also played a critical role in the American Revolution, from the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party to Paul Revere’s ride. Today, visiting these historic places in Boston is as simple as taking a walk along ‘The Freedom Trail.’ It’s a 2.5-mile red line in the sidewalk that links 18 historic sites in Boston and the neighboring city of Charlestown.
Boston is known as the Cradle of Liberty and is home to some of the oldest restaurants in the country. The Union Oyster House, at 41 Union Street, is located along the Freedom Trail and dates back to 1826. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, it still serves slices of Boston Cream Pie just the way it was originally invented.
Taverns played the role of Meeting House, watering hole and news network. The oldest known tavern, the Warren Tavern, at 2 Pleasant Street, sits adjacent to downtown Boston, in neighboring Charlestown. It dates back to 1780 and was erected just after the British razed Bunker Hill in the battle of Bunker Hill.
A participant of the Boston Tea Party, Captain Eliphelet Newell, founded the Warren Tavern. The Captain named his establishment for the fallen hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill, General Joseph Warren. Paul Revere often visited the Tavern and George Washington also stopped by for a drink on his way to meet with Benjamin Franklin.
When not taking repast at Taverns or Inns, colonial meals were prepared at the family hearth or hearth oven. Colonial wives primarily used items that were obtained from the family farm. Martha Washington was said to be an excellent hostess and was famous for her art of preparing fruit and custard ‘pyes’. One of her most noted cake recipes required forty eggs, four pounds of butter, four pounds of sugar, four pounds of flour, five pounds of fruit and baked in the hearth oven for two solid hours.
Boston Beans, Cakes and Pies, oh my!
Boston Bakes Beans
Back in colonial days, a favorite Boston food was beans baked in molasses for several hours. Back then Boston was part of the trade route in which plantations in the Caribbean grew sugar cane to be shipped to Boston and made into rum.
Today, Boston baked beans are something of a rarity – there are no big companies in the city making them and only a few restaurants serve them.
If you want to try some, head over to Blue Ribbon BBQ, located at 908 Massachusetts Avenue, in Arlington. They cook their beans from scratch for twelve hours and flavor them with molasses. It’s not the traditional baked bean recipe, but they are awesome beans.
Boston Cream Cakes
In the 1879 cookbook, Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, the following recipe for Boston Cream Cakes appears:
Ingredients: 2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of water,1 cup butter, 5 eggs
Directions: Boil the butter and water together, stir in the flour while boiling; after it is cool, add the eggs, well beaten. Put a large spoonful in muffin rings, and bake twenty minutes in a hot oven. Cream: Put over the fire one cup of milk and not quite a cup of sugar, one egg, mixed with three teaspoons of corn starch and one tablespoonful of butter. Boil a few moments only. When cool, add vanilla to the taste. Open the cakes & fill them with cream.
Boston Cream Pie
The Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker House Hotel), claims to have served Boston cream pies since their opening in 1856. French chef Sanzian, who was hired for the opening of the hotel, is credited with creating Boston cream pie. This cake was originally served at the hotel with the names Chocolate Cream Pie or Parker House Chocolate Cream Pie.
So who’s got the best Boston Cream Pie today? Visit our Boston Bakes participants, Sky in Norwood, Oceaniare in Boston, Cassis Bakery in Beverly or The Nantucket Bake Shop on Nantucket, and you decide. Tweet, Facebook or email us. The Oak Room at the Copley Plaza Hotel and Bread and Chocolate are also sure to please.
Boston Parker House Rolls
Another classic recipe with origins in Boston is the Parker House Roll. The term refers to the folded-over rolls made famous some 100 years ago at the Parker House hotel.
These rolls take some time to make, but are soft with a chewy crust and are a great addition to any meal.