Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Chris was gone for five days and five nights. My dinner menu included ordering pizza on Thursday evening. I thought I had it all figured out. There is a “trattoria” right downstairs. (How we managed to live here more than three months without ordering from the restaurant downstairs is another story.) My plan was this: gather four children plus doggy for evening dog walk, order pizza upon exiting building, walk dog for about 30 minutes, return to pick up freshly baked pizza, glide up the elevator with good pooch and angelic children, enjoy hot pizza, put children to bed, the end.
This is how it went: gather four children plus doggy for walk, exit toward trattoria, 11 year old asks if they speak English. They respond affirmatively, I begin browsing the menu for which pizzas may excite our taste buds. Smart 11 year old asks about ordering pizza for take out and they say “no”. I step in and explain that I would like to order pizza and take it home/upstairs. They say, “No boxes today. Maybe come back tomorrow.” I can’t believe it! My plan was perfect. No, I don’t want to come back tomorrow. It is six o’ clock and tonight is pizza night! I have four kids and a dog and my husband is gone and I am in a strange country and I didn’t make dinner because it is my night off from cooking and we can’t have pizza because a trattoria won’t have boxes until tomorrow?! Okay.
This is Ukraine after all. I should be happy they even have pizza. (Not that it is good like American pizza, but we will still eat it.) We walk. I debate the possibilities. One of the kids brilliantly remembers a different restaurant just around the corner. It is the best suggestion so far. We go for it. You two kids stay outside with the dog. Adeline, Niya, and I will order inside.
11 year old asks if they speak English. They respond affirmatively. Smart 11 year old asks about taking the pizza home in a box. We hold our breath. They respond affirmatively! We hug. We cry. Oh wait. That was just in my mind. We are escorted inside to sit at a booth while browsing the menu with wiggly daughter. I ask a simple question. “How big is the large pizza?”. Of course I must know how much it will take to feed the brood. His reply? “About 33 centimeters for the large and 20 something or other centimeters for the small.” I must have looked confused as I don’t normally order pizza in centimeters. He kindly clarified by adding the fact that the large pizza is about 400 grams. I assure you this is a true story.
Cultural note: I have been here long enough to realize things are closely measured. The menu reflects portion sizes in grams next to the price. I personally think they are stingy with portions, but of course it is good to understand the size portion you are eating so as not to over eat.
Realizing all at once that my math teachers of yore knew what they were talking about when lecturing on how the rest of the world uses the metric system and had I paid better attention it would have actually benefitted me one day in the distant future rushed through my mind as I held back a sarcastic laugh. My kids needed me. They were counting on pizza. So I did the best thing I could think to do and that was to order three large pizzas. Hearing the words “come back in 20 minutes” made me feel successful, albeit late.
We walk the dog, we buy some produce from the corner stand, we return for pizza. I pay, and don’t inspect. The pizza feels light, but warm. We wash up, we set the table. We open the boxes. They are paper thin medium-ish size pizzas. Aiden could eat the whole thing himself. They are cold. By the time you walk around the corner of a huge city block, trudging up hill with four kids and a dog, wait for the elevator, and everyone is properly sanitized, there just isn’t a chance of paper thin pizza retaining it’s heat. Oh well. It was tasty. And we had a memorable pizza evening.
Moral of the story: Ordering pizza here isn’t as simple as you may think. Oh, and please pay attention when being taught the metric system!