Stories from Italy: Where is the pasta vongole? Part 2

14 Nov

Already after the second day in Tuscany we were craving pasta vongole. Spending a long day by the beach had made us certain about we wanted to please our taste buds with that very afternoon.

We all knew it. Nothing had to be said. We wanted pasta vongole.

Hungry as bears after waking up from idling, we started to look for a restaurant. As many of you may know, I am unbearable when I am hungry. I do not function, and you will probably think I am the rudest person on earth if you do not know the reason behind my behavior. It is a complete nightmare to have to deal with me.

The long day at the beach had sucked out almost all of our energy, hence the atmosphere was not the best – with the blood sugar level at the lowest it was least said laconic, with a touch of melancholy.

Deep inside our conscience, I think we all had this picture of enjoying a genuine, Italian pasta vongole by the beach, with the sun slowly transferring into sunset colouring the horizon soft red velvet, feeling the Mediterranean sea breeze slowly caressing us, – an experience all together wrapped up in the distant view of the island of  Monte Cristo rising over the Mediterranean, and of course with the taste of vongole in our mouths.

But to be honest, in the afternoon heat, this felt faaaar away.

We walked and walked and walked, from beach stand to beach stand asking for the pasta, only avoiding ONE single place – a swedish  place where ABBA music were pumping out of the speakers. A place standing in polemics compared to our vision.

It did not matter what, at every place – beach stand or restaurant – the explanation was the same; “Sorryyy you should have come earlier”, “Sorry signori no have today”, “We start to serve it a little later”, “We have it everyday except today” e.t.c.

We all looked at each other. Was this a joke?

No.

We stopped. Should we give up?

No

We were so close. We could not give up. Giving up was to surrender. It was to betray our taste buds.

After being quiet for I do not know how long, we mutually broke the silence with one simple question.

“WHERE IS THE PASTA VONGOLE?”

The best answer I could give was to refer to the chorus of the ABBA song playing in the swedish beach stand far away:

“MAMMA MIA!!”

Yes. MAMMA MIA. This was ridiculous. We were in the most italian seafood paradise on earth and we could not find the simplest and most italian seafood dish on earth? This should as easy spotting men in speedos on the beach.

Despite our failure, we continued to look. We gave up the beach and searched the village center. But neither there could we find it.

As a last desperate attempt, I just told everybody, that I was heading for the swedish place no matter what. Janna, Johan and Pelle could follow me or get lost. That is how hungry I was.

I started to run. They ran after me. The ABBA music slowly got louder. Eventually it was loud enough to convince us to go to this place. We went inside, took a table and asked for a waitress.

I was the one to ask the crucial question. I opened my mouth; and guess what, out came the words:

“do you have the pasta vongole?”

She smiled.

I smiled.

We all smiled.

FInally, I thought. We all thought. What a relief. Or?

It felt like hours; she opened her mouth and in an italian/ swedish accent came the words;

“No, I am sorry”

NO…

“But we have a delicious blue mussel pasta, you won’t get dissapointed, I promise”

This was it? We had been looking for hours and this was what we got? A blue mussel pasta at a swedish place with ABBA music? I told myself; I am afraid this is it. I think all the others told themselves that too. We decided to go for the mussel pasta.

Hungry as a wolf is the least I can say about how I was feeling. But one good thing that comes with when I am hungry, is that the accuracy of my taste buds gets sharper, more specific, and I can taste things I otherwise can’t. It turned out this was the perfect day for that.

Out came the most delicious pasta I have ever had. I remember that I ate two plates.

We looked at eachother and smiled. No we found our selves sitting at the most swedish place in Italy(?), eating a blue mussel pasta, looking out over the ocean. It was not red, it was getting dark, the clouds had filled the sky and the evening rain had just started. This was the total opposite to what we originally had pictured. But maybe it was the purpose, maybe the meaning of that very day was to not find a pasta vongole, maybe the purpose was for us to try something totally new. Maybe food God was involved, or just our food sence was playing us a trick.

Whatever it was I did not want to think about it. All I could think about was the song pumping out from the speakers.

I started to sing. This was not a regular ABBA song. This was my song to Italy.

I love italian food.

“Mamma mia, here I go again

My my, how can I resist you

Mamma mia, does it show again

My my, just how much I’ve missed you

Yes, I’ve been brokenhearted

Blue since the day we parted

Why, why did I ever let you go

Mamma mia, now I really know

My my, I could never let you go”

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