Romanian Grace

The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

23 January, 2007

vocabulary building

If you want to eat out in a foreign country, there are a few words you must know. Bathroom is one. Anchovies is another.

One of my favorite places for pizza was a place called (strangely enough in Romania) El Barrio. I went there one time with my friend Darin, and we were both munching away on pizzas, which we had slathered in garlic mayonnaise, when I looked up at him and said, "Does this garlic sauce taste kind of fishy or something?"

" It tastes garlic-y," came his reply.

"Mine tastes kind of...fishy." I took another bite and as I was chewing examined my pizza. In places, beneath the grease and cheese landscape dotted with capers were several greyish humps. I disected one with the tine of my fork.

"I discovered the source of the fish flavor. That word I couldn't read on the menu, it turns out, was 'anchovies.'"

"Would you like a slice of my pizza?" Darin is what we refer to here in Romania as an "om bun (ohm boon)," or a swell guy.

+ + + + + + + + +

That was about two months ago. Yesterday we went to El Barrio again. One pizza, the Napolitan, caught my eye. It caught my eye because it was cheap and had capers on it.

When it came out I looked at it and one of those deja vu or cell memory shivers crawled down my spine, performed a little jig on my spleen, and swung in a hammock in my stomach. Ten little greyish humps. That same fishy smell. I spread the garlic mayonnaise on thick and tried to convince myself that starving kids in Africa would love to have this pizza. I also tried to eat it contentedly enough that Darin would not completely pity me (or laugh at me (which he would never do because he is an om bun)).

This is what we call experiential education.


At 24/1/07 05:40, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Nicholas,
I just wanted to share an eerily similar experience. When I was 19 I spent three months in Slovakia, as you probably remember. The members of my group were not the most adventuresome and so, I have eaten pizza in all of the countries I visited. Early in our time there we located this restaurant, which had a Slovak name we could not pronounce and became known to us simply as "the pizzaria." We heard later, though we have no idea whether it was true, that this place was a mere front for the mob. [What does "the mob" look like in Slovakia? I do not know].
Anyhow, getting to the point... the first time we went there, several of us ordered calzones. Mine was about the size of one from Lupi's and I was enjoying it very much, until.... You guessed it, little grey lumps, (hard to have warning of such things in a calzone too). I could not eat any more. It turned my stomach to such an extent that I never ordered anything there again beside "margherita" pizza. This might sound pretty adventuresome, but it just means "cheese." -Scharlie


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