Mama would not like you to think that she doesn’t like Russian cakes – they have one which is layers of meringue sandwiched together with cream and covered with peanuts which is her most favourite thing to eat ever – but for some time she was itching to introduce Papa to the glory that is a proper British sponge cake, because sponge cakes in Russia are made largely without the help of baking powder and invariably tasted a bit stale to Mama’s refined sponge palate.
So it was a bit of a shock when she finally triumphantly served him a slice of moist, light, spongy goodness and Papa was unimpressed. It all goes to show that food is one of those things that can cause someone to go into a tailspin of culture shock like nothing else.
Which brings me to a restaurant called La Gatta.
‘La gatta’ means ‘cat’ in Italian. I know this because the restaurant is covered in funny cat pictures, something that definitely makes it a good place for our family to eat out as just the wall art keeps us amused while we wait for our food to arrive.
And I know the La Gatta restaurant is Italian because pizza features highly on the menu, along with pasta. And very nice pizza it is too, although because we are in Russia, it is often liberally sprinkled with dill.
Mind you, La Gatta also serves sushi.
Because we are in Moscow.
And in Moscow, sushi and pizza are the two most popular carryout food items, if you don’t count street food from the Caucuses. Many takeaways, cafes and restaurants may have started out serving one but have long since shrugged and decided to offer the other as well.
This is one of those things that strikes expats as extremely bizarre, wrong and demonstrative of a fundamental something or other about their host nation. Much hilarity generally ensues the first time someone pins a flyer for the local sushi’n’pizza place next to the lift of their new flat.
Mama, however, having recently eaten in not one but two separate restaurant chains in the UK whose menus cheerfully combine burritos, curry, koftas, burgers, pies, lasagna and jerk chicken as well as steak and fish and chips, decided recently to just go with it and order the damn fish rolls if she didn’t feel like a bread overload.
So she did. Nice huh? Go on, you know you are secretly thinking that this sounds like a good idea.
She has no idea if warm tempura-battered fried rice rolls with cream cheese inside are authentically Japanese, but they were very nice so she just does not care.
And if you don’t fancy either the Italian or the Japanese food then you can get the German-inspired sausage platter instead.
While ordering from the extensive beer menu. Because in this Italian restaurant they don’t serve wine.
Address: At least three locations in Moscow for La Gatta and every fifty feet for a sushi, pizza or sush’n’pizza place.
Opening: As you would expect for a restaurant.
Getting there: No need to take the car, they will bring a selection of sushi rolls and pizzas to you if you don’t fancy leaving your flat.
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