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?"
"Um...no. 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.
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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.