Tuesday, May 10, 2005

ukrainian pigeons

These things?

These are storks. They have built a ginormous nest atop a phone pole. Apparently this is very common here.

The guy who's been driving us around must think I'm a complete nutcase by now. Although he appears to make a decent living humoring Jews who want to run around in the high grass and cow shit, feeling the surfaces of gravestones so old that time has worn them back to bare nubs of rock. I'm just not sure how many of his other passengers need him to stop at weird times to take pictures of the fauna.

I was really planning to write something substantial tonight, but I've been eating substantial things all day, and the two forces are in serious opposition. The short version: we found living relatives, which we completely did not expect, and then they overfed us, which we also did not expect but should have. Had we read any of the books I bought about this country. I'll tell that story presently, maybe after I've made more of a dent in the three bottles of home-pressed grape juice and one of homemade wine they sent us home with, which we need to drink somehow before we fly back to Berlin from Budapest on Saturday.

And then, because I have no sense in my pointy little head whatsoever, I decided to try the "Transcarpathia Party" special at the Star Hotel restaurant. With a side of beet salad and a nice cold beer from the hotel's own distillery, which I imagine is hidden somewhere near the pool and Jacuzzi I have yet to find. LaE, are you reading? I was thinking about you, and how stupid I was not to bring my camera to dinner. The plate was beautifully arranged, but I am not, repeat not, ordering this again because twice in one week Will Kill Me.

1. (4) Special skinny sausages, spicy.
2. (1) Special thick sausage, very mild, with lots of rice built in.
3. (1) delicious pickle
4. (drum roll please) Salo! Smoked pork fat, the best-known Ukrainian dish after borscht, traditionally eaten on black bread (made with honey and almost flowery-tasting) with salt. AX, stop reading here, you'll hate this part: it is not at all what I expected, white and flavorless and squishy. It's more like eating bacon--without the meat.

If you can imagine that.

I can, but more importantly, I can feel it. We've been avoiding all the usual typhoidial suspects, raw things, milky things, questionable water, things washed in questionable water, things grown with questionable water, etc. Which means I'm going to need vegetables very badly when I get back to Berlin. Very badly.

Although I am completely set for grape juice.