I was at the Bendigo Writers Festival over the weekend, and I went to La Porchetta for lunch. There were plenty of places I could have eaten closer to View Street (where the festival was held), but they were all pretty busy with other festival attendees, so I took the time to wander over to La Porchetta.
I’ve always liked La Porchetta. It’s not to hard to explain why…its Pizza! Simple really.
And yet, perhaps more complex. A few times Claire has wrinkled her nose up at the mention of La Porchetta. That sort of moue that implies a slight disdain for fast food. For something from a chain of restaurants that could be had better from a family run restaurant.
The pizza was pretty good, but no more exceptional than one I could have had at several other Mom & Pop pizza places, or an Italian restaurant on view street.
So it made me wonder, why do I like La Porchetta, and why does Claire not like it that much (well, apart from the fact that she isn’t a huge fan of one of the main food groups…Pizza!)
Sitting there, having had the creative juices inspired by a talks from the festival, I realised that for me, La Porchetta evoked feelings for me.
I first went to La Porchetta while I was a student. I went to La Trobe University, and lived on campus at Bundoora. Being a poor uni student, pizza made a high class change from two minute noodles and vegimite on toast.
We would drive all the way from Bundoora down to Rathdowne Street in Carlton where there was this amazingly cheap place called La Porchetta. The pizzas were fantastic, and fantastically cheap. I can’t remember the exact price, but I think a medium pizza was about $4.50.
The place was a little pokey hole, occupying two shop fronts. Tables were crammed together, but the place was always cheerful and busy, and there was (for me) a feeling of family and of authenticity to the place. I remember asking the old Italian man (who I imagined to be the owner…but probably wasn’t), why the pizzas were so cheap…and he laughed and said the pizzas weren’t cheap…all the other pizza shops were expensive.
I’ve since been to Italy several times, and I can say that the feeling and taste of the pizza’s that I recall from La Porchetta were just as I imagined them to be in Italy.
So, for many today, La Porchetta may be a growing chain of Italian themed restaurants, but for me, it recalls a warm busy family run restaurant that served pizzas that were amazingly cheap. I guess its all a matter of perspective.