Gobbagoo. Proshoot. It’s not really Italian. The language, like a cuisine starts a new evolutionary branch when it’s far from home and time passes. If you’ve been to the North End of Boston or Little Italy in Ottawa, you can get amazing, but North American versions of Italian food. They do stand on their own as a culinary style, but it takes a trip to Italy to see the difference.
I am traveling on business and am in Sweden and hit the spot where locals rave about the food as being authentically Italian. I want to check it out because I’ve already been here for 3 weeks and am keen to try something else besides the local food, which is absolutely wonderful. Sweden is not Italy, but it’s one ocean closer than the North End or Ottawa. Any bets the food is too?
I go to VESPA. It’s a bright, sunny place in a dark and grey Lund November visit.
Time for a beer. They have lots of Italian choices to I go with a relatively crisp, light Italian lager, called Gradisca. It’s good, but not great. Has a bit of a chemical finish.
Then comes my appetizer, an antipasto misto — a salad with prosciutto, salami, olives, pesto, parmigiano reggiano, and artichoke hearts with thin crispy breadsticks. Absolutely delicious. It’s fair to say that I might get something like this closer to home, but I’ve never seen it.
But the real test is pizza. When Maureen and I went to Italy we found the pizza to be a revelation. Perfect thin, crispy yet pillowy crust, simple tomato sauce, only one or two ingredients and some fresh mozzarella dotting the pie. In Ottawa, Back Lane is the only place that comes close.
The pizza at Vespa is very, very good. I opt for one with red peppers, porchetta and olives. The sauce was perfect, the crust was thin, but a little too chewy and the toppings and cheese were very nice.
As is proper, when you have prosciutto or, in this case, porchetta to add to the pizza, you add it just as it comes out of the oven and it kind of melts into the pie.
I’d like to say that I’m caught up in lively conversation, but I’m by myself, so dinner goes by quickly. All in all a wonderful meal and closer to proximity to Italy really does make a difference.