Boston’s Decadence
4 mins read

Boston’s Decadence

My friends from New York often tell me that I have a liking for Boston because it has a “European feel.” I’m not quite sure how to take that.

Boston’s old colonial-style brick buildings, take you back to scenes of HBO’s ‘John Adams’ when it was the USA’s capital and the Boston Massacre occurred. But Boston’s more than just that. You’ve got Chinatown and its dumplings, punk rock concerts, universities all around, wonderful bakeries, chill suburbs, and an innovation hub.

In my experience, Boston felt more like a lively city of universities and college students, where you’d be asked for your ID to enjoy a beer at a restaurant for lunch.

When I gaze at the misty harbors, I can’t help but think of scenes from Moby Dick, and it awakens my craving for oysters. Among the various recommendations that led me there, my favorite spot in Boston remains the good old Neptune Oyster Bar in Boston’s North End. And while I consistently order oysters, it’s the clam chowder and the jonnycake that keep me coming back.

Discovering dishes with deep roots and history in this country is a real treat. Americans have a long history of bastardizing culinary traditions from other cultures, whether it’s burritos, chop suey, paella with long-grain rice, chorizo and lime, or spaghetti with meatballs, where the answer to “why?” is often a simple “Because we can.”

I don’t have many references to clam chowder; I’ve tried only two others in my life. Yet, this one stands out to me. I understand that some versions are much creamier. In essence, it’s mirepoix, potatoes, clams, and bacon cooked in stock and cream. It’s impossible for it not to taste good, but, as with all exceptional dishes, the very best ones shine through their finesse and the balance they achieve. Neptune’s clam chowder does just that.

Outside, there’s a line of people waiting, and inside the bar and at the tables, you’ll find more locals than tourists, creating a warm and bustling atmosphere reminiscent of a busy place. The individuals responsible for preserving these New England traditional dishes, “Salen dos clam chauders a la mesa tres!” are the Latino staff members who passionately call out orders in Spanish.

Neptune’s jonnycake, however, has gained recognition from various authors across different platforms, with many describing it as ‘decadent’. Before trying it, I was unfamiliar with this corn pancake, which shares some resemblance to polenta and boasts a delightful crispy exterior. In contrast to the cachapa in Venezuela, which is made from ground corn, Neptune’s version combines all-purpose flour, semolina, and cornmeal adding more crispiness.

This one is generously soaked in butter and honey, then topped with a blend of smoked mackerel rillettes and a generous serving of caviar. It’s the addition of caviar plus the sweetness of the honey-butter that elevates it to decadence and lust. Otherwise, it would be a simple jonnycake with smoked fish. It’s a distinctly American twist, akin to the practice of adding caviar to cold fried chicken or to mac and cheese, where the answer to “why?” is often a simple “Because we can.”

Venezuelan Cachapa


  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • Butter or oil to fry
  • Salt to taste


  • Blend corn, milk, eggs, cornmeal, sugar, and melted butter until medium consistency. Add flour if too thin. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Heat a non-stick skillet with butter or oil.
  • Pour a ladle of batter into the skillet, spread to 5mm thickness, and cook until golden on both sides. Just like a pancake.