Monday, November 12, 2007


Katya and Misha just came over to our house for dinner. I roasted two chickens of course. It was difficult buying only two. The woman at the market kept saying “tree moznya?” (Three maybe?) And went so far as to plunk a third one down on the scale. “Nyet, dva prejalsta.” I said at least four times before she finally relented. The potatoes and onions were harder. I waited on a long line with many annoyed people my temperature rising as usual, my sweat mixing with the soil covering the potatos and onions. As I got close to the register I noticed there was no scale and I guessed what was coming. The teller gave me that look I’m so familiar with at this point. A mixture of exhasperation, disgust, and sheer disregard. Then the usual flurry of angry clucking and pointing. Off the line I went with my bags of potatos and onions dripping dirt behind me. Then there was another line just to use the scale, which luckily had pictures on it next to the words. Finally back on the previous line at which point the woman gave me a knowing smirk, and nodded a kind of agreement with each printed label I had stuck to my filthy potatoes and onions.

It was so nice to have company for dinner. I roasted the chickens over potatoes, onions, and carrots and used all the spices I brought from home. We started with the usual plates of cheese, ham, and smoked salmon. I made a salad with finely diced cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and radishes. For desert: juicy ripe pears and plums, although Katya preferred cheese bread and honey with her tea and cigarettes. It was rewarding to be able to be the host after being their guest for so long. They told us stories about their days in the academy and a bit about some of the teachers there now who they know. Misha recalled his childhood when Saint Petersburg was much colder and his mother slathered goose fat on his face to protect it from the wind. I asked if he could smell the goose fat and if it didn’t make him hungry all day. Katya liked that one and broke into one of her laughing coughing fits between cigarettes. We finished off the night with Cognac and cigars and that satisfied smile of a full belly and the afterglow of a house warming.

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