Marco, a resident FreeP blogger on exchange from Italy, has spent his semester experiencing life in America. In this series, Marco discusses all his first experiences of different aspects of American life.
I have always wondered whether the Chinese food or sushi I eat in Italy resembles authentic Chinese or Japanese dishes. My inner voice has always told me that is not the case, as I have alway suspected that Italian-Chinese food is never as good as Chinese food is in its home country. Now that I am in Boston, I had the occasion to test my theories about foreign food: I am sure that every foreign food is in some way adapted to the country in which it is served, thus resulting in something quite different from the country of origin.
So I decided to try Italian food in Boston. Of course, I didn’t choose Eataly (that’s real Italian food, if you are wondering). Instead I opted for Bertucci’s, which has just closed in Kenmore but still has a lot of restaurants in the Boston area. I went to the one in Longwood, the closest location to BU.
To begin with, the menu is well-structured: They offer a good variety of pizzas, pastas and other quasi-Italian dishes. I didn’t try the pizza, as I chose the famous spaghetti with polpette (meatballs), probably the dish that evokes the most classic idea of an Italian dish in the United States. If you were wondering, spaghetti with meatballs is NOT Italian food, as no one in Italy actually eats this dish. We usually eat both spaghetti and polpette, but we don’t mix them. For Italians, making polpette is a way of recycling the leftovers from the day before, and we eat them as a second course (yes, because we typically have a two-course meal: The first course is usually pasta, and the second course is meat or fish with vegetables).
Concerning the quality of the dish, I would simply qualify it as “fine,” though I would define it as an American-Italian rather than Italian.
However, I do have to say that here in the United States, (though this applies to the rest of the world, as well) you overcook pasta. In Italy, we call pasta cooked correctly “al dente,” literally “to the tooth.” All Italians are born with the undefinable trait which tells them if the pasta is cooked al dente. It is a sort of ancestral ability to know if the pasta is good or not. You cannot define or learn it, only feel it.
For dessert, I tried a classic Sicilian pastry: what Americans call cannoli, a crispy pastry filled with ricotta and chocolate chips. I have to say that it was “fine” once more, but apparently the best ones in town are the ones at Mike’s Pastry.
Though, I do have to point out a grammatical error: cannoli is actually the plural of cannolo. For whatever reason, Americans use cannolis for the plural and cannoli for the singular, and I really don’t understand why you perform this butchery.
If you want any suggestion on how to cook a pasta or other Italian dishes, contact me at [email protected] I will be happy to help you.