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Downtown View: Cleaning Up

Things change. Life happens. People move around and do new things. There is not enough time, there is not enough space to consider all that needs considering. So a few items need addressing. Here they are.

Marathon Daffodils

There has been a change in the organization that will accept contributions for this effort. A couple of months ago this column introduced a project of Charlestown’s Diane Valle, who this fall intends to plant hundreds of thousands of daffodils along the Boston Marathon route for the enjoyment of next year’s runners and as an expression of beauty for the run that will not be stopped by a couple of thugs with bombs.

Handling funds for the daffodils will be Tom Coots, the branch manager of The Cooperative Bank in Charlestown. Address your checks to Marathon Daffodils, The Cooperative Bank, 201 Main Street, Charlestown, MA 02129. Garden clubs in the suburbs will help plant the bulbs this fall, but Diane may be looking for volunteers to plant downtown too. Stay tuned.

Insufficient infrastructure

A few weeks ago I regretted that a shortsighted Massachusetts legislature, by fearing a tax hike and underfunding transportation, was not preparing Boston for an influx of new real estate development, more residents and more workers. They seem not to have noticed that the roads, buses and subway trains are at capacity throughout the day.

But that is my regret about state elected officials. City officials seem ignorant of the effects of expansion also. Where are the libraries in the Seaport District? Where are schools, not only in the Seaport, but downtown, since one lone school perched nicely beside a playground on Boston Harbor is not going to cut it for the many families who want to stay in downtown Boston, not to mention those who can move in because a couple of developers are finally planning to build three-bedroom units.

The last playground that was built in the downtown was paid for and managed by private individuals, not city government. Here’s hoping the next mayor figures out that a city is not just a bunch of shops and offices. It also needs schools, libraries, playgrounds and parks and maybe a fountain or two.

Fava beans

Favas are Italy’s national bean, and no wonder. They are better tasting than lima beans, soy beans (otherwise known as edamame) or green beans.

The slow food movement must consider these bright green tasty morsels their most desirable dinner item because dealing with them is slow. First you have to pop the beans out of their heavy pod. Then you must boil them until their tough, thin casing can be slipped off. That’s why the best way to enjoy them is already podded, peeled and frozen.

You can find frozen favas all over England and the rest of Europe, but in the U. S., you’re generally out of luck. Whole Foods sometimes carries the fresh pods in the springtime, but no frozen ones. Inexplicably, stores in the North End don’t carry them unless you count dried favas, which are brown and less appetizing.

So fava bean lovers are out of luck unless they hop in their car or take the subway and then the bus to Watertown, where the Armenians save the day. Arax Market has stacks of them in a freezer. To make Arax Market even more entertaining, hookah pipes line the top shelves all around the windows. The puzzling piece? With all the fava beans in Europe, these frozen beans come from China.

It would be nice if the national bean of Italy came from Italy and were available in Boston’s Little Italy.

Downtown View is a regular column by Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times weekly newspaper in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Her column appears in those newspapers as well as the Regional Review, which serves Boston’s North End. These weeklies are now owned by the Independent Newspaper Group. She is the author of “Blue Laws, Brahmins and Breakdown Lanes: An Alphabetic Guide to Boston and Bostonians” and the co-author of “The Lady Architects,” a book about three women who practiced architecture in New England and elsewhere in the early 20th century. She lives in downtown Boston and blogs at

One Reply to “Downtown View: Cleaning Up

  1. No favas in the North End? You’ve missed one of the neighborhood’s greatest treasures. Alba Produce on Parmenter St. almost ALWAYS has fresh fava beans.

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