Eating out in Boston at Durgin Park Restaurant in Quincy Market is a tradition in my family. The restaurant has been around for hundreds of years and is old-school in the extreme, with a pressed tin ceiling, tile floor, brusque waitresses in white polyester uniforms, and a prime rib special. Food is plunked down unceremoniously in the same thick white crockery that’s been used for generations. It’s a noisy, bustling place with about as much charm as a bus station and I absolutely love it because it is so reliably the same as it was when I was a child.
I’m a fan of the sweet cornbread that is served to all customers when they sit down, and love to pair it with a bowl of the thick chowder, loaded with potatoes and clams.
In fact, the menu is full of traditional New England fare, none more my favorite than a dessert of Indian pudding, an amalgam of cornmeal, milk, butter, and molasses. Pretty and light it ain’t. It is rich, dense, almost chewy – a dowdy, reliable pleasure. It’s served warm, usually with vanilla ice cream, although I like mine with a huge gob of whipped cream, which melts and pools around the edges.
There’s something essentially puritanical about Indian pudding, which feels both wholesome and a little punishing while also satisfying some deeper craving for sweet satisfaction. You definitely don’t get up from the table hungry when you’ve eaten it.
However, Indian pudding isn’t for everyone, so I was a little nervous that Tommy might not care for it.