Tuesday, March 03, 2009

No hanging fruit

Dorchester isn't fruit-flavored. You can purchase pomegranates, perhaps, in season at the Field's Corner Farmers' Market, and you can pinch bitter apples at the Super-Value Supermarket across the parking lot all year long, and you can squeeze leechees and duran along Dot Ave's Umami Mile, but you can't pluck a chokecherry or a crabapple along any roadside in Dorchester. There aren't even any road apples now that the streetcars have gone underground.

Dorchester isn't sweet. It is tangy and earthy and vitamin-rich, strung with celery threads and fingerling roots that bind everything together in a tight mesh. It is corn and carrots and boiled potatoes. Dorchester is starchy and bulky, with a hint of flavor that satiates a belly with bulk. The spice is in the seasoning and the main ingredient starts with a capitol 'D.'

You can eat stringy meat in Dorchester, meat so neatly cut into morsels that its fibers are studied at MIT to figure out how it can work so well in a stewpot and be chewed by toothless babies with the right seasoning and preparation like pablum or whole milk solids. Molecular evidence leads to a choking hazard conclusion but Dorcester toddlers wrestle their day care brethren to the ground without breaking a sweat or achieving an aerobic heart rate. The science of life is tenoned in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Dorchester babies, like their parents, bite and they bite hard.

Sanitary laws and the Department of Public Health have their place in greater Boston but the people who dine in Dorchester have tough constitutions and robust immune systems more than hearty enough to shrug off the slings and poison-tipped arrows unwashed lettuce leaves and crusted forks can offer. Touch the flexed bicep of a Dorchesterite and you will feel hard puddingstone under your dainty fingertips. Fog, sleet, gloom, despair and ennui may roll inland off the shores of Dorchester Bay. Dorchesterites eat. They bite, they chew, they mull and masticate, and they take their nourishment from they get. There are no fruits or berries. This is a neighborhood that ruminates.

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