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Jan 17, 2007 02:25 AM

PDXer needs some definitions from Bostonians

Ploye? Creton? Toastie? What in 'l are you eating back there? First trip to Boston, from Portland, Oregon and looking forward to it! Searched former posts for local foods and would like to know definition of these and other local specialties native to Boston/New England. Never heard of 'em. Thanks!!!

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  1. I don't know about a toastie but I think that Ploye (kind of a skillet pancakey/bread thing) and Creton (a pork spread eaten with Ploye at breakfast) are Acadian/French Canadian which is to say that you'd find it in Maine rather than Massachusetts.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tomaneng

      There are plenty of French Canadians living on the south shore of MA.

      I've seen creton spelled as gorton as well and pronounced (gut-awns)with a french accent.

    2. Both ployes and cretons are French Canadian specialties. Ployes are buckwheat pancakes, which I know are served at Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown and may be offered elsewhere.

      Cretons is apparently a Quebecoise pork pate, though I have no personal experience with it and had never heard of it until there was an active thread here on the Boston board a couple of months ago, in which varoius folk were looking for decent local versions.

      As far as I know toasties are a panini-like toasted/grilled sandwich served at the Squealing Pig on Huntington Avenue, across the street from where I work, and at a few other Irish pubs around town, so they may actually be an Irish specialty. I had certainly never heard of them before I went to lunch at the Pig, and I'm an approximately genuine native Bostonian if you don't count the first six months of my 50+ years. So I'm afraid that none of the items on your list are really "local specialties native to Boston/New England." Sorry!

      1. The foods you mention aren't local specialties; homesick transplants from other places were just using the Boston board to find local sources for them.

        Some real local specialties that I can think of:

        Local seafood: clams (notably quahogs and littlenecks), oysters, mussels, Maine lobster, crab, shrimp, cod, haddock, bluefish, squid, many other ocean fishes. Raw oysters, steamed clams, fried clams, fish chowder, clam chowder (done in a thin milky broth without tomatoes here), steamed lobsters, baked schrod (usually means young cod), and lobster salad rolls are popular and considered local specialties. You might also seek out the New England clam boil and New England clam bake, two distinctly different styles of preparing a mess of local shellfish with other goodies for a group. (I grew up on clam boils; we never had the wherewithal to put together a bake.)

        Colonial-era food: Indian pudding, johnnycakes (a kind of cornmeal pancake done in two distinct styles, thin/lacy and griddled polenta-ish), hard cider, brown bread, apple pandowdy. You don't see this stuff much.

        "Yankee" cuisine, another old New England legacy, marked by its frugal use of cheap ingredients: baked beans, "New England boiled dinner" (a root vegetable and broth stew that originally included bacon, now mostly uses corned beef). Also not much seen. Lobster used to fall into this category, but no more.

        Local produce: apples, blueberries, sweet corn ("butter and sugar", with a mix of white and yellow kernels), heirloom tomatoes, winter squashes, cranberries, maple syrup and sugar, Maine potatoes, turnips, unpasteurized (soft) cider, many things I'm sure I'm omitting.

        Local artisanal producers: cheese, dairy products, organic pork, poultry, and beef, farmed game (venison, wildfowl).

        The region has a number of vineyards making wines and fruit wines, and many microbreweries. I think applejack (brandy distilled from cider) is still produced locally.

        On the restaurant scene, we cover a fair amount of world cuisine. I'm especially fond of our unusual concentration of restaurants from Portuguese-speaking countries: Portugal, the Cape Verde Islands, the Azores, and Brazil. These restaurants do a very fine job of showing off the local seafood.

        You can skip the Cheers bar and Quincy Market entirely and still lead a fulfilling life. Most of our so-called Irish bars aren't. Much of the Italian food in the famed North End is pretty bad Italian-American. "Coffee regular" means weak filter coffee with cream and sugar. I could go on with many more local peculiarities -- like Boston cream pie, which is a cake -- but that should get you started.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Great, comprehensive list. The only reason I would send an ou tof towner to Quincy Market would be to get some Indian pudding at Duragin Park, though you can get that at the Warren tavern too I think. Also, while ice cream certainly isn't specific to Boston, we do hold the disctinciton of consuming the most ice cream per capita of any region of the country and I do believe that we have the best offerings. Board favorites include Christinas and Toscaninis. I like JP licks but know that some don't. Also, could you steer the poster to a good place for chowder because too many places do the thick gloppy kind that makes me embarrassed to call myself a native Bostonian. I haven't been on the look out for a while so I don't know. Finally, I would only ammend that if the poster wants to order a coffee regular and really feel native, he/she should order a "lahge regulah."

        2. Thanks very much. Love to eat local stuff as much as possible so those tips appreciated. I will be traveling around Maine (old Peace Corps group reunion), New Hampshire and Vermont. Not as interested in the upscale $100+ dinners as I am in local fare, especially locally grown things, regional preparations and places to schmooze with the locals. This is very helpful, thank you.

          1. Besides all of the excellent suggestions above, I'd also throw in a Roast Beef Sandwhich a 'la Kelly's but there are many other excellent choices out there. Our regional roast beef sandwhich conssists of warm, freshly thin sliced rare roast beef often served on a toasted onion or sesame bun, the condiments vary as much as the individual ordering.