My seatmates raised their eyebrows and changed the subject to lost causes. The host wandered off. But a few minutes later, he returned and put two St. Anthony buttons on our table. "I overheard what you said, and I thought you might like these. Would you like two more?" he said, looking around at my friends. I thanked him profusely and put one on my jacket. And then we had two spectacular margherita pizzas, green with basil.
I thanked the host again after dinner and he took my hand in both of his. At times like this, I absolutely love the North End and (almost) everyone in it.
While my husband and friends went to their bank machines, I got in line for cannoli at (where else?) The Modern. The line was out the door, as usual. I had a nice chat with the woman in front of me, who didn't know anything about any of the pastries in the window, including the marzipan. I gave her a brief pastry lecture. Then we talked about the North End of years ago, which led to our ages. When I guessed that she was 48 (she was 62), she blessed me and practically hugged me. My friends arrived and quickly decided the line was too long, so we headed for Lulu's, where there is never a line.
A few minutes later, the lady and her husband showed up. My friends had no idea who they were, so they found it odd that this couple marched right up to me, their pastry tour guide, and demanded, "Where are the cookies? Are they any good?" I led them over to the rack where the cookies were cooling. It's the North End, after all, and sometimes everybody is your relative.