By Muriel Bristol | March 25, 2019
Boston’s famous Durgin-Park restaurant closed its doors for the last time on Saturday, January 12, 2019, after nearly two hundred years (founded in 1827). I heard about it recently from a friend that lives in Boston.
Durgin-Park occupied an upstairs location in the northern row of buildings at the Quincy Marketplace. It was known for its communal seating at long tables, and its menu of what might be called traditional “Yankee” food: cornbread, seafood, chowders, broiled meats, Boston baked beans, boiled dinners, apple pie (and cheese), and Indian pudding. Even spruce gum for afters.
There were and are many fine ethnic restaurants in Boston and New England, but only Durgin-Park presented traditional Yankee cuisine so authentically and so thoroughly.
I have (from an older relative) one of their postcard-like handouts from some forty-five years ago, which featured their recipes for Boston Baked Beans, Baked Indian Pudding; Tea Cake, Blueberry Cake, and Cornbread; and Old-Fashioned Apple Pie.
I will here reproduce, as a sort of tribute, the Durgin-Park recipe for Tea Cake, Blueberry Cake, and Cornbread, which all shared a common base.
TEA CAKE, BLUEBERRY CAKE, AND CORN BREAD
For Tea Cake:
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups milk
Mix sugar with beaten eggs. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add melted butter and milk. Beat up quickly and bake in a large buttered pan in a very hot oven. This makes one large pan, which will cut into 21 squares.
For Blueberry Cake, add one cup blueberries last.
For Corn Bread, substitute one cup granulated yellow corn meal for one of the three cups of flour.
One may notice that, as with the Milton Cookies of 1895-96, no specific temperature or time is given. You are supposed to just know that. For those that do not, a modern oven temperature of 400° might be taken to be a “very hot oven,” and a baking time of about ½ hour should be about long enough, but keep an eye on it. A 9″x14″ baking dish of 3″ depth would be about the right size.
Should there be sufficient interest, I am prepared to reproduce one or all of the other Durgin-Park recipes from the handout also.
Meanwhile, if you ever find yourself in need of lunch in Boston, Jacob Wirth’s German Restaurant (founded 1868) offers a not too dissimilar experience, except with German food instead of Yankee food. You might drown your sorrow over the loss of Durgin-Park in a nice Hefeweizen beer.
Boston Globe. (2019, January 4). Durgin-Park, a Faneuil Hall Stalwart, Closes after Almost 200 Years. Retrieved from www.boston.com/food/restaurants/2019/01/04/durgin-park-a-faneuil-hall-stalwart-closes-after-almost-200-years
Forbes. (2019, January 10). After 192 Years, Boston’s Iconic Durgin-Park Restaurant Serves Its Last Meal. Retrieved from www.forbes.com/sites/julietremaine/2019/01/10/after-192-years-bostons-iconic-durgin-park-restaurant-serves-its-last-meal
Wikipedia. (2019, March 4). Durgin Park. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durgin-Park