Food & Wine: Wise Guides

May 1999


The guide

The daughter of a Polish butcher, Michele Topor says her life changed 28 years ago when she moved to the North End and got her first taste of good olive oil. She began taking classes with Marcella Hazan and Giuliano Bugialli, and today she’s a cooking teacher herself. She’s led her North End walking tours since 1987. (more…)

Boston Globe: Interview with Michele Topor

Interview by John Koch, Globe Staff

MOVING TO THE NORTH END made Michele Topor, 52, what she is: a devotee of Italian culture and food, a cooking teacher, and a guide who leads culinary tours in her historic neighborhood.

Do you have to be Italian to do what you do?

I’m 100 percent Polish, but I grew up eating wonderful, fresh, good food. My dad was a butcher, and my mom is a wonderful chef — Polish, though. This was in Three Rivers, a Polish, French Canadian, and very Catholicvillage [in Palmer]. When I moved into this neighborhood, in ’71, I had never even eaten spaghetti. Tomatoes were for salad or stewing as a side dish. I’m sure I drove people crazy asking what is this, how do I cook it, how do you eat it? (more…)

Beth Applebaum

Beth Applebaum loves to teach-anyone, anywhere, anytime. For the past twenty five years, she has taught Special Education and has been an outspoken advocate for children with special needs. A private tutor for the past seven years, Beth is currently teaching dyslexic children to read.

One can trace her love of teaching back to a year spent in Torino, Italy in the mid-70’s. During that time she worked at a private school teaching Conversational English to Italians, and learning the Italian language from her students in return. Her love of teaching, combined with a passion for cooking make Beth a perfect guide for our North End Market Tours. (more…)

Boston Globe: Cook’s Tour — An Italian Garden Feast Takes Shape on a North End Roof

by Carol Stocker, Globe Staff

Michele Topor is of Polish ancestry, but she became an ardent Italophile when she moved to the North End 25 years ago. “I didn’t know anything about Italy or anything Italian when I first moved in here,” she says.

“But I found that because of the warmth of the people here I have an extended family. Learning about the foods made me want to learn more, so I started traveling to Italy.’

Topor made herself an authority on Italian cooking and today teaches classes and leads market tours in the North End under the name L’Arte di Cucinare. (more…)

Boston Globe: A Food Lover’s Guide to the North End

by Alison Arnett, Globe Staff

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…)