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…)

Boston Globe: Tales from Cooking Class


by Jack Thomas, Globe Staff

This is a class in Northern Italian cooking, so it’s normal, I guess, to feel hungry.

But I’m nauseated.

It’s not the bagna caoda (garlic dip) we’re making, nor the polenta (corn meal) nor the zabaione (Marsala and egg yolks). What makes me queasy is the entree I’m stirring, coniglio in peperonata, and if you don’t speak Italian, well, that translates into rabbit and peppers, and where I grew up THAT translates into the Easter Bunny.

I know. Sophisticated folks dine on everything from snakes to snails to oxen tails, and I’ve read in Gourmet magazine that rabbit is the rage in Europe. On the other hand, I’m not the only one in this month-long course at the Boston Center for Adult Education who’s queasy about coniglio in peperonata, and by the time we sit down to dinner, half the class feels guilty that we’ve drawn and quartered and boiled in oil that cuddly creature that — a scant three weeks earlier — had been hippity-hopping down the bunny trail. (more…)