We’re standing on Cross Street on the edge of the North End, with throngs of shoppers, tourists and street people coursing around us. It’s a bright, chilly Saturday in April, and fava beans, a sure sign of spring to Italians, are in the markets.
Michele Topor, who is leading this food tour of the neighborhood, is showing us how to peel off the tough outer layer from the beans, remove the thin skin covering them and pop the pods, which taste a little like fresh pea pods, into our mouths.
The greengrocer smiles, we smile, the fava beans are delicious and it does, indeed, feel like spring. And the moment’s a perfect illustration of the joy that the North End, host to a series of immigrants — Irish, Eastern European Jewish and finally Italians in this century — still harbors in its food. (more…)