Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fried Potato Pizza

Sometimes I have trouble dealing with a fast food jones in the oh-so-slow world in which I live...
So we just ate Pizza again. I absolutely understand that this is not a big deal. I understand that picking up a phone and ordering pizza is the easiest thing in the world. But basically, we don’t have this here in Pinsk, Belarus. And it is not even like there is no state run Pizza place, there just isn’t any at all. So we are bereft unless of course you decide to make it yourself, which we just did.

It was my idea actually. We were on the farm all day and had worked up a good appetite. Me, I actually always have a good appetite, but after raking and digging and hoeing all day, you kind of want something a little special to eat for dinner. So Pizza got suggested and Pizza is what we got. And just for the sake of continuity, I’ll tell you that it had tomato sauce, white cheese and tvorok, which I guess is called ricotta if it is culled from an Italian cow; some onion and a little bit of smoked salmon. For those of you who prefer sausage and ham, we go kosher here and, if you have never tried it you don’t know what you are missing. Yum!

But all through the dinner Tatyana insisted on counting how much we paid for it. Here’s the accounting: Half a jar of sauce- 1000 rubles, 200 grams of cheese- 2000 rubles (a dollar of you are taking me seriously), the tvorok was 750 rubles for a 200 gram brick and the fish was about 3500 for the package, and we used about ½, so 1750; so about 5500 for the toppings plus some flower and soda- and milk for the dough, salt, sugar and of course the gas for the over. I suppose we could identify the cost of the match it took to light the over, but maybe this is taking things too far.

But in any case, we came up with the number of about 6000 rubles for the two pizzas that came out so yummy from the oven or, about a buck and a half each. Now this is probably what a pizza place pays for each of its pizzas. Of course there is also the rent of the shop and the note on the pizza ovens, t-shits, pizza boxes and everything else they need to be in business. And of course profit. But basically the individual circular food-stuff unit probably costs what we paid; maybe a little less by bulk, maybe more for size (scope?) or by adding meat.

“Was this expensive?” I asked as I was begging for a third to be prepared.

“Yes. We never pay so much for a single meal” was her reply. And I suppose this is true. Normal for us is soup or potatoes, maybe kasha. Sometimes eggs or fish- we seem to have dropped the vegetarian thing and for sure we have come Shabbos. But generally speaking we would never spend three dollars for a single meal- Maybe for a whole day’s worth of food, but never for a single meal.

I did the math in my head. “Do you mean to say that we could have pizza every day for only a buck and a half a day? Let’s do it!”

“That’s fifty dollars a month.” She reminded me. I hate when she puts things in such ways. You see when you say it like that, you see the money and how it relates to the entirety of your budget.

“I see your point.” I did too. But damn that pizza was good.

“You can eat this morning’s potatoes if you are still hungry.” A more depressing thought could not have been brought up.

So I was back in reality again. Too bad, I mean really, a couple of slices of extra ordinarily good pizza is indeed something and it had been exactly what the doctor had ordered following a day in the field.

So what else is going on around here?

I do have a lot to do these days. Actually I have been really burning the midnight candles these last few weeks. I have been swamped with extra work, and there is so much of it that I can’t even see it coming to an end any time in the foreseeable future. Last Saturday night as an extreme example had me at this desk at 8:30 pm. I finally could not keep my eyes open at about 5:30 the next morning and so I crawled to the couch and slept until Anya hit me I the head with a book at 8:00. Well, 21/2 hours of sleep is enough for anybody, so after a cup of coffee (Also a luxury. Actually Tanya likes coffee a lot so she doesn’t bother me about anything but for the amount of milk I put in it) I was back at the blinding machine until 2:00 pm when I went off to meet with R’ David for our study session. After that, all I had to do was give an hour English lesson and I was home free, that is until 2:00 am that night when I went back after it again.

Maybe all of this work is a good thing in terms of job security and for that good solid feeling that comes from having many things to do in general, but still, I am not getting a lot of sleep these days.

All of this work and pizza related thinking has come to mind by the way because of a letter I got from a new friend. He has been a reader of mine for a while and wanted to talk about potential businesses in Belarus and of course the first thing that came to mind was to open a pizza place. I don’t think that there is an American alive who, when considering the opening of a new business does not at least think of a pizza place. But I could not advise that this would be a good idea. Ok, ok, maybe in Minsk. I don’t know if there is a Pizza Hut there (I can’t believe I just plugged them; they should pay for the ad space.) but I am sure you can get a pizza if you want one. I know they have pizza hut in Poland. And there is a MacDonald’s or two also in Minsk. So yea, maybe it would be possible in Minsk, but in Pinsk? No way. Could not happen. Well, maybe it could. But then if it did and someone actually had the money and resources to actually get a place open and functioning, there would probably be a state pizza shop opening nearby which would undercut you every day until the new legislation came along which doubled your operating costs. I mean to hell with quality, this is Belarus.

In any case I advised against this and promoted some agricultural ideas instead. The dollar per hour rate for farm work is a jip by any standards but you can set your watch by it and the state absolutely approves.

But even so my friends, a potato or an apple does not have even a 100th of the satisfying capacity of that fresh from the over taste and haughty smell of pizza. No way. I mean you could talk good health all day and a half day on Sunday but there is no competition at all for melted cheese, rich tomato sauce and fresh baked dough.

Actually, we had pizza few days ago also but owing to the fact that I personally had not supervised the construction like I did this time, that pizza had mushrooms and fried potatoes on it. Every had French Fries on a pizza? I am sure someone somewhere must have thought about it. If not, here:

Fried Potato Pizza
Copyright 2006
Adam Goodman

There. That ought to get the money flowing in. Good thing that I thought about it. You have got to be careful about what you say on the web.

But really, if you never have, try it and tell me what you think…

IN ANY CASE, we are moving along in this year’s planting season.We hopefully will be finished by the end of next week, or at the very least the week after. We might have a problem getting a horse though. As you can imagine everybody and his brother (Which now that I think about it is how they work around here) is going to be using every nag which can stand on four legs over the next few weeks, so really it is all catch is catch can. But I think we will be ok. Tanya is more nervous than I am about this equine acquisition deal, but I think we will be ok. I mean, I have never actually HEARD of a family being shut out from getting a horse in potato season and then starving to death because they never got their potatoes in the ground. Not in Belarus. I mean really, you would seriously have had to have been drunk that year, I tell you. And besides, I planted our potatoes by hand last year. It is a bit more work to be sure, but in the end it is doable. So I think we will be ok. Really I do.

PS: Thanks for all of the letters and comments on the 100 edition of the BEING HAD Times. I think I answered everybody. If I missed you for some reason, I apologize and will for sure get to it this week.

And a very, very happy sweet 16 for Sarah Laura on May 3rd.

I am completely responsible for all of the mistakes, but never believe I have ever forgotten anything. Please accept my good wishes in place of a face to face. Maybe someday such things will be again possible. My best to your brother Nathan Thomas and all the family as well-

I wish for you only love, happiness and peace,


More soon…