I have started my travel back up because I think it is essential to keep cancer on the front burner during this pandemic. It is estimated that 80,000 cancers have gone unscreened and undetected while COVID has taken center stage. So sharing my story and making sure that we don’t add more tragic loss to the toll the pandemic has taken on this country is what motivates me to don my mask and hit the road. But traveling is much harder these days. As it should be. I am glad that masks are required in airports and on planes and that hotel gyms are closed or extremely restrictive. It is the only way I feel safe doing what I do. But it sure makes it less fun.
Part of the joy of traveling for me is, let’s face it, the food! I love trying new restaurants or revisiting ones that made it onto my list (kept in the notes section of my phone) as memorable. I do not mind dining alone because I love to people watch and anyone who knows me will not be surprised to learn that I often strike up conversations with those around me so I may enter the restaurant as a solo diner but that rarely ends up being my dining experience. But, of course, that has changed drastically too. As the weather gets cooler, dining outside is becoming more and more of a challenge and takeout eaten solo in my hotel room is not as tasty nor as enjoyable.
And then there is a reminder that yummy food transcends all obstacles and that there are ways to think outside of the box as far as sharing a meal with strangers. So I present to you last night’s dining experience in Boston. I was already sad that I could not see any of my friends who live in the area, but the rainy day made meeting any of them outside for a walk or a meal a no go. The rain also foiled my plan of eating outside at Figs, Todd English’s absolutely delicious pizza restaurant I discovered the last time I stayed on Beacon Hill. So I decided to have my favorite pizza delivered to my hotel and I watched a rerun of last week’s Saturday Night Live while chowing down.
Here is the way the crispy calamari pizza is described on the menu. Tomato Sauce, hot cherry peppers, arugula salad, crispy calamari, lemon aioli.
I am sorry, but that just does not do justice to how delicious this pizza is. Picture it all on a crust that is simultaneously crispy and chewy and imagine a symphony of contrasting yet supportive flavors exploding in your mouth with each bite. So freaking good. And I am sure it is even better when served piping hot in the restaurant, something I hope to experience on one of my return trips post-pandemic.
Now look at the size of this pizza. I was full after two slices. A tiny corner of the mammoth pizza. I couldn’t even touch the spicy, charred broccoli I ordered on the side, let alone another slice of pizza. But I wasn’t about to let all of that deliciousness go to waste. So I packed it all up and brought it down to the hotel valets, who were huddling under a heat lamp trying to stay warm on a rainy night and who were oh so excited to take my pizza off my hands Smiles all around.
And that, my friends, is the magical power of good food – even in this crazy and challenging time. I still enjoyed a delicious meal that was uniquely available to me where I was and I still got to enjoy the camaraderie and warmth that a shared meal offers. And if you ever find yourself in Boston and want a delicious calamari pizza, I highly recommend Figs on Charles Street.