Whenever I travel, I always try to eat the iconic food of the city that I am in. I’ve had cheese steaks in Philly (one provy wit), croissants and crepes in the streets of Paris, currywurst in Berlin, stracciatella gelato in Rome and poutine topped with smoked meat in Montreal. I remember when I visited Istanbul I made a commitment to eat at least one dürüm döner (gyro) every day. It was fabulous. At the end of my trip, in addition to some unwanted pounds, I could discern the subtle differences in the taste of the meat, seasoning, the pita and the sauces.
Trinidad is of course home to many varied iconic street foods - roti in St. James, doubles in Curepe and Woodbrook, corn soup and a variety of souses around the Savannah. We also have some less indigenous foods on the scene like gyros and jerk chicken and while I welcome the variety, I am cautiously concerned when there are more gyro stalls than double vendors.
I am in Boston walking through Faneuil Hall. I am in search of my first clam chowder in Boston. Several of the vendors here offer this most Bostonian of foods so I settle on the place with the longest line. The Hall is hot and humid so I head out to Columbus Park and find a shady tree under which to sample this treat. I am not disappointed. The chowder is thick and rich and creamy. There is a clean freshness that you don’t get when you usually eat your chowder from a can. The seasoning is well balanced. There is also an abundance of potato and clams which settle at the bottom of the bowl forming a motherlode of yummy goodness to the very end. There are no sandy gritty bits that I have experienced with other clam chowders. In short, it is fabulous.
As I bask in the afterglow, I wonder, did this chowder do Boston proud? For certain there are much more sophisticated and complex chowders at “real” restaurants. Can I say without a doubt that I have tasted real Boston clam chowder? Will this chowder now set the standard for all other chowders to come? Am I doomed to be disappointed when next I order clam chowder in Port of Spain? Will a hot bowl of Campbell’s clam chowder on a rainy Saturday afternoon cease to be a treat?
The weather has changed suddenly and dark clouds are forming overhead. As I vacate my spot under my tree in the park and seek shelter for the rain that is sure to come, I wonder, where I will sample my next bowl of clam chowder tomorrow.