This past spring, I attended an open house for Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library. I love Quincy’s library system and think supporting the library is a great way to be a philanthropist — even if only on a small scale.
I’ve been a Friend of the library for years, but it was my first time attending this type of event. And I’m so glad I did. I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Maria Olia, who writes about travel in the Boston area and New England in general.
Maria’s current book, New England’s Colonial Inns & Taverns, is a great resource and timely too. For those of you who believe in ghosts and are looking forward to Halloween, she lists some haunted historic inns in her book.
But don’t be scared! We’re going to resume this ongoing series with the 14th interview of You Pick Six and learn some more about Maria.
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What brings you peace every day?
My long walks around Crystal Lake in Newton bring me peace every morning. I love walking outside every day, in all weather. Sometimes I walk with a friend, sometimes I listen to classical music. Walking helps set my mind for the rest of the day. And sometimes walking is the best part of my day!
What is a favorite quote?
One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain- ” In New York they ask, ‘How much money does he have?’ In Philadelphia they ask, ‘Who were his parents?’ In Boston, they ask, How much does he know.'” Of course, historically, Boston was the intellectual impetus for the American Revolution. And I think Twain’s quote is still apt- we are “smaat!”
What is a favorite childhood food memory?
I’m a child of the 70’s so one of my fondest food memories was having cheese fondue.The idea of sharing food from a communal pot was totally hippy. It was very exotic for the time- the little enamel pot filled with melted swiss cheese and the long forks with the color coded handles – I always picked red. In our house, my Mom, my Dad, my little brother and I would eat fondue sitting on the floor huddled around the coffee table in the family room which just added to its “specialness.”
What is the best meal you ever had and where was it?
I eat out constantly in Boston doing research for my travel books and I have had some amazing meals along the way. But my most memorable meal was 10 years ago in Tuscany. My husband and I, along with our three sons, our daughter and my parents toured the Castello di Brolio vineyard. Afterwards we had the tasting menu at the vineyard’s small restaurant. I don’t remember exactly what I had for each course, but it was an authentic Italian meal outside on a perfect summer day in a magnificent setting and with all the people I love.
How did food become an important part of your life?
Ever since I was a teenager, I was a foodie. One summer I made a project of cooking meals from around the world. I would do the research and make things like saurbraten with spaetzle, or Venezuelan beef tamales in banana leaves. One year, for my high school French class final report I made a croquembouche- a tower of cream- filled choux pastry balls decorated in caramel sugar. Naturally, dining is a huge part of my travel writing. You can plan entire days around the restautrants, bakeries and food markets that I write about in my guidebooks.
Tell me about your book.
My newest book is New England’s Colonial Inns & Taverns (Globe Pequot). It’s a travel book that profiles 29 historic New England inns and taverns that have a connection to the colonial era; places that date before the year 1800. Some of the places are well known, like the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge or the Union Oyster House in Boston. Others are less common, like Mount Hope Farm in Bristol, Rhode Island and Eben House in Provincetown.
What is unique about this book is that I delve deeply into the colonial history of each place; how and when they were established and the tavern or inn’s relationship to their community through the years. And for these places we are talking centuries! I have also written about what today’s traveler would expect; the types of rooms or amenities at the inns and the dining experiences found at the taverns. There really is something for every taste; romantic country inns of course, but also high-end boutique inns, elegant townhouse inns and rustic chic- inns. Some taverns are all about Yankee pot roast and chicken pot pie, but there are several that are fine dining destinations with excellent wine lists.
Finally, the book has nearly 100 color photographs throughout- what I like to refer to as “Instagram-worthy” photos. There is a two-page spread of cows in a misty meadow, a full page photograph of a bicycle with a wicker basket of hydrangeas propped against a country fence and a full page collage of seafood dishes from Maine’s York Harbor Inn that looks like it should be in a food magazine. The book is a large format paperback but it has the feel of a coffee table book. It’s visually very appealing. I think that we are very lucky to be living in this corner of the world!
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Thank you so much for participating Maria!
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Photos: Provided by Maria Olia.
Some of you may remember reading about a surprise announcement coming up. Well, here it is! Recently, I’ve become a contributing writer for Craving Boston! A new food blog! I’m so excited! For those of you not from the local area, WGBH is one of our local PBS and NPR media outlets.
I’ve been a WGBH sustaining member for several years and a fan for even longer. Most of my life actually! As a kid, watching Sesame Street on WGBH may have been one of my first ever long-term television watching experiences. So I’ve come full circle.
Craving Boston is a food blog exploring the deep connection between the New England region and its cuisine.
My first article for the food blog, Prison Gardens Grow Food and Skill Sets, came about because I learned about the large vegetable harvest from the garden at Bridgewater State Hospital.
Also, I have been thinking about the issue of incarceration. It’s been in the news a great deal lately. From President Obama being the first president to visit a prison to Pope Francis visiting inmates as well. A Washington Post article quotes the Pope’s words.
This time in your life can only have one purpose: to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you a hand to help you rejoin society. All of us are part of that effort, all of us are invited to encourage, help and enable your rehabilitation.
The New Garden Society provides “therapeutic and vocational horticulture training” to the students as part of the facility’s Horticulture program. The Horticulture Society of New York talks about the benefits of gardening.
Horticultural therapy is an ancient practice that uses plants and gardens as tools in human healing and rehabilitation. Its benefits include stress reduction, mood improvement, alleviation of depression, social growth, physical and mental rehabilitation, wellness, and vocational training.
Since today is Halloween, I am especially reminded of a statement by one of the students. He said that he hadn’t seen a pumpkin in 20 years. I cannot even imagine that.
Seeing pumpkins is a signal for the change in seasons and something that we take for granted this time of year. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most important.
I hope you’ll click over and take a look at the full article. Happy Halloween!
*Updated 12/12/2020* I should have updated this post years ago. Craving Boston no longer exists, but most of the articles that I wrote have moved over to WGBH website. Unfortunately, this original article wasn’t moved over, but I found it archived on The Wayback Machine.
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Halloween was one of my favorite holidays growing up. We lived in a large apartment complex with many buildings and would trick-or-treat in each building on every floor.
It was such a blast and we got so much candy! A friend’s mother would decorate their whole apartment, have scary music playing and she would dress up like a witch. So many years later and I still have such fond memories.
I’ll be picking up some candy today and hopefully we’ll get a few trick-or-treaters. We usually don’t get many, but I still love the day.
Happy Halloween to you and enjoy the links!
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The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows (The American Folklife Center)
Soul Cakes: Hallowed Offerings for Hungry Ghosts (NPR)
Halloween 2014: The horror films and scary TV to watch on Netflix (The Independent)
The Tell Tale Heart – 1953 narrated by James Mason (YouTube)
5 Workouts to Burn Off Halloween Candy (Boston.com)
10 Supposedly Haunted Objects Never, Ever to Bring Into Your Home (Especially Around Halloween)(Bustle)
Here Are the Top Five LA Neighborhoods For Trick-Or-Treating (Curbed LA)
Yes, I Bring My Poor Children Trick-or-Treating in Your Rich Neighborhood (Time)