Saturday, September 19, 2009

When September arrives in East Boston

When a trip to the Produce Center in Chelsea for cases of tomatoes signals not only September but the time to make a year's supply of tomato sauce.

Since the arrival of Italian immigrants in East Boston, the canning (or bottling to be precise) of tomatoes for Sunday morning sauces commences with the harvest. Some tomatoes are grown in backyards along with basil; others are purchased in Chelsea. Either way they are enjoyed year round once the flavor has been sealed in air tight jars

For a few days in the crispy air of fall, a pleasant smell of basil and tomato wafts through cellars below the three-deckers on the island that is known as East Boston. Those jars make Sunday possible.

There will be fewer of these days as time, that eternal constraint, and a generation of Italian families passes. Precious they are indeed those cellars in the autumn.

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