Monday, July 16, 2012

Pizza on a roof

Friday night, The Irishman and I drowned our house sorrows in pizza and wine at one of London's newest pop-ups, Forza Win. I think I've mentioned before that The Irishman's two favorite things in life are pizza and ice cream, so when he heard about Forza Win he jumped right in and got us two seats. It's a good thing as tickets are sold out now.

 The concept is pretty simple: pizza on a rooftop in Shoreditch, straight out of a homemade brick oven.

Unfortunately, due to the recent weather, we didn't get to eat on the roof; instead we had tables set up in an alternate inside space inside the building. But no matter – it was still pizza!

The weather held off long enough for us to have our cocktails on the roof though, so we got to admire the view of the East London skyline, mingle and meet the other guests, and ask questions about the pizza oven. I was gutted that it was so wet I couldn't sit in the bumper car. It was literally filled with water.

Tickets to the event obviously include the pizza, but also a welcome cocktail – an Aperol spritz. This drink happens to be my favorite cocktail of the moment, perfect for a hot summers day (or a cloudy cold summers day if you want to fake it). 

As the sun started to set and the temperatures started to cool down, we headed inside for the main event: pizza. As it's a pop up supper club, you sit at communal tables and share the pizzas. We sat with a few couples and a group, and had a few vegetarians which meant more meat pizza for us! One of the main meat ingredients was a chorizo-type sausage called andouille (I think) – hot and spicy and amazing.

As the meal went on, though, the conversation started to turn slightly odd. One of the women sitting across from me started to heavily criticize America and Americans to the couple sitting beside her. Now. I am not a thin-skinned person, nor am I particularly gung-ho on the USA. As an American who lives abroad, I frequently criticize my homeland myself, find typical American habits to be grating and often apologize to my foreign colleagues for the blithely offensive actions of our New York office. But listening to someone else, a stranger, sound off about Americans right infront of me – definitely within earshot – got my hackles up bigtime.

When she finally addressed me and The Irishman, she made a few pointed remarks about the USA and proclaimed me to be acceptable when I told her where in the States I was from. I disengaged from the conversation pretty quickly at that point, and it sort of soured the rest of the evening for me.

Which is a shame, because we were also treated to a set from a band called Shields from Newcastle. They were set to open for Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park later in the weekend, and were really fantastic. As we were actually in the offices of a film production company, naturally the band's performance was being shot for a video.

I have to say that I've never really been that annoyed by someone America bashing, but something about the setting of this interaction saddened me. Maybe because pizza is such an American food, despite being cooked Neopolitan-style at Forza Win; I mean, we wouldn't be having pizza pop up restaurants if Americans hadn't normalized the idea of eating pizza. Maybe because I'm so quick to defend my decision to live abroad while being jealous of the 100°F heatwave hitting the East Coast yet hating the fact that I'm wearing the same outfit I wore in February only it's July. Maybe it's because the longer I live away, the more I realize that nationalistic segregations and stereotypes are barriers to truly understanding people. And maybe, finally, it's because hearing some lady punter verbalize opinions that are so close to my own actually reinforced for me the reality that the US has a lot of work to do to repair its image in the world; the work is far from over on that regard, and as much we Americans still want to believe we are somehow more evolved than other nationalities, it's simply just not true.

And actually, I have to say that one of her comments was very very apt: she was astounded that the US was exporting so many bright, articulate, and interesting people... and she wondered why the US wasn't doing enough to keep them. Which is a pretty fascinating comment – I mean, why isn't America doing more to keep its brainpower within its borders? I don't particularly want to move back, nor do many of my expat friends. So maybe the truth of it is that her comments hit far too close to home.

At any rate, if you can get there, check out Forza Win: the pizzas are great, the spritzes are authentic, the bands are fantastic, and the conversation is nothing less than stimulating.


  1. Andouille is a typical Cajun sausage, though at least one other post I've seen about Forza Win refers to 'Nduja, which I never saw in the States, but I've definitely heard of it before.

    I also encounter the America-bashing regularly, way more than you seem to have, and yes, it grates. It grates because people make sweeping generalizations despite having evidence to the contrary of my (and other American colleagues) not fitting stereotypes. It grates because sometimes they'll concede "Well, you're okay". What if I was from [some state they find offensive]? Would they still stick to their guns?

    She'd be a fool if she didn't think many other countries have this loss-of-the-educated problem. A quick Googling for UK brain drain shows over the past 5 years articles about video game developers, MBAs, and engineers.

  2. KNILE! YOU HAVE IDENTIFIED THE MYSTERY DELICIOUS MEAT! Thank you :) And yes, to all of your other comments. Maybe I should try saying I'm from Iowa, just to see what other people say... I wonder if they will know where that actually is!

  3. Pizza, Location and Shields were all awesome...feel lucky to have found all three! Want to see Shields as a full band! x x x

  4. @ Ziggy - it was a great night, and Shields were amazing. Don't think we got to meet - too bad! x