While my French friends were visiting the U.S., we took a day trip to Boston. Anyone who is familiar with the East Coast knows that this was kind of a crazy idea. It takes at least four hours to drive to Boston, plus it was snowing the day we went. But when you have a limited amount of time during a trip and want to see another part of the country, that’s what you do. Well, that’s what we did, anyway.
We left around 6:30 in the morning in a car stocked with coffee and a dozen donuts. Breakfast on the road—we were doing this à la américaine indeed.
Our first stop in the Boston area was MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As an American, you don’t realize how complete the American college campus experience is until you see it through a foreigner’s eyes. A typical campus has everything—student residences, dining halls, science labs, sport teams, and a myriad of activities. It also has a shocking sticker price, especially for someone who comes from France, where higher education is usually nearly free.
We had lunch with some of my friends, which was fun. It’s always interesting to see one’s worlds collide. I talk about my French friends to my American ones, and vice versa, and for them to meet each other was a rare opportunity that I felt lucky to witness. And although I wasn’t looking for it, it’s also a good feeling to have people you respect and care for approve of the other people you spend time with. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by good people and am therefore proud to introduce them to others in my life.
So anyway: Boston. Boston in the snow is pretty. It’s not a sight I’ve beheld many times, since when I lived there, a cold snowy day is precisely the type of day I would not have ventured into the city. But it’s gosh darn beautiful.
Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States, was quiet except for the crunching snow beneath our feet and quacking ducks next to the pond.For dinner we had a compulsory New England clam chowda bread bowl at Quincy Market, a building which dates back to the early 1800s and today houses numerous food stalls. It’s one of those places that is touristy yet retains its charm for me.
Side note: To someone who doesn’t know what a clam chowda bread bowl is, you must explain it in several steps. I usually start by saying it’s a kind of creamy soup with clams in it. Then I say that it’s served in a bowl made of bread. If the person is still interested, I explain the difference between New England clam chowder and Manhattan clam chowder (and add my opinion that New England clam chowder is undoubtedly better). It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by how many confused French faces have looked back at me over the past year or so.
Of course, the best way is to discover a new food is to taste it. Happily, my friend’s reaction to his first sip of the thick soup was wide-eyed pleasure, in contrast to his reaction of confused distaste upon his first sip of bubble tea earlier that day. I took one for the team and drank two servings of bubble tea (okay, it was no sacrifice), the honeydew-flavored one I ordered and his honey one—or “auh-nay,” as he would say.
Next to Quincy Market is the historic Faneuil Hall, where colonists held meetings during the stirrings preceding the American Revolution in the 1700s.The ride home started with snow that turned into rain that eventually cleared up. During long car rides, normally I like to be the one in the back cozily dozing, but since my dad had driven us to Boston that morning, I drove back with his directional assistance in the passenger seat. I have to say that I enjoyed the taste of driving on the highway at night with the music on, my dad next to me, and two guys passed out in the back seat. In the words of Shania Twain, “Man, I feel like a woman.”