I completely sympathize with reader Bob Anderson’s chagrin at being served something totally different than what he rightfully expected, and I agree that that borders on false advertising.
Established recipes have standard names for a reason. If you order clam chowder, you should get clam chowder. There may be room for tweaking some of the minor details, but in the main customers should know what they’re getting.
Walk into any Italian pastry shop (there are a few in Boston), and a cannoli is a cannoli, a sfogliatella is a sfogliatella, and so on and so forth. (They’re now offering cannolis with all kinds of fillings, but if you ask for the original filling, you should get the original filling.)
Then again, consider an Italian dessert such as tiramisu (a relatively recent invention, not more than 50 years old). Its main ingredients are ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese (whipped with eggs and sugar), and espresso. Now that it’s become nearly as common as apple pie in this country, everyone is ad-libbing, and in some cases you see each of the main ingredients replaced by something else, ladyfingers by sponge cake, mascarpone by whipped cream, and espresso by chocolate. Can you still call it tiramisu? I certainly wouldn’t. And you sure won’t see any Italians do that sort of thing.
Maybe we need the Legislature to step in and settle the Boston cream pie matter once and for all.