Larry and I hopped in the car this morning and drove north to Salem. My family has roots in Everett and Chelsea, old immigrant communities just north of Boston. Italian, Irish and Jewish back in the day; South American and Asian today.When I was a child, it was considered "making it" to move to the North Shore towns of Marblehead, Lynnfield, Danvers. I lived in Peabody until I was five, neighboring Salem. Salem is an old shipping town on the north shore which had its heyday in the late 18th and early 19th century. Nowadays most tourists go there for the tacky Salem Witch Museum and assorted witch tourist traps; sometimes ducking into the House of Seven Gables. The city had a long downturn after the shipping era and then again after the early mills and tanneries died out, but its grittiness is receding as people fix up the lovely old buildings and visitors come spend. Salem has a very fine historic area with wonderful Federal and early Victorian homes; a revitalised downtown area, a spiffed up waterfront, and the very interesting Peabody Essex Museum.
The EPM started as a collection of Salem maritime art and the Chinese and Japanese collectables brought back by ships captains. It's been around forever, and has gradually broadened its scope and collection. It has expanded its old building into a huge warren of connecting galleries carrying traditional fine artwork from Japan, Korea, China, and India, materials made for export tot he West, and now contemporary works and native American art. It's a fascinating place to spend a few hours, with well designed exhibits that aren't overwhelming.
Contemporary native American gallery
18th century ships masthead
Curio cabinet with items brought home by ship's captains, with interactive display.
Trio of Japanese bowls--traditional, made for export, contemporary
Afterward we wandered the Federal District.
We found Hamilton Hall, where we were married.
I had read on Chowhound of a szechuan restaurant in Malden, so we headed to Fuloon for a late lunch. Excellent food, and a lovely hostess who made sure our order had a good balance of heat and texture. Wok-Baked Beef with Cilantro; and Chicken with Hot Green Peppers. Rich, complex flavors, and Man, that chicken left our mouths buzzing with layers of flavor and heat. Excellent.