Take a homely, brown dish like Boston baked beans and you have to wonder how it survived all these centuries, from a time when the pot would simmer in the hearth and beans were a staple. Well into the last century, beans were cooked on Saturday and eaten with franks, and on Sunday morning, they appeared next to the eggs at breakfast. And on another day, you might be met with this surprising and cheap lunch: cold bean sandwiches.
And still, Boston baked beans are beloved by anyone who was raised on them. Some New England dishes become favorites because they’re part of the fabric of the region, like salty air and cobblestone streets. To the people who love them, the beans have a familiar taste of molasses and smoke, and every summer picnic is better if someone brings them along.