Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Turning spam into partridge

I have pretty much stopped blogging. Belgrade grew familiar, and the response was a little underwhelming. I didn't develop into the giant internet celebrity that I had envisioned in the project plan. I'm kidding (sort of), but I'll blame timing: the concept of BigD had the Dad conceit as one of the main drivers, but by the time I started, my girls weren't little anymore and there were decidedly fewer of those "kids-say-the-darndest-things" moments for source material. Or maybe there are just fewer things worth writing about that happen every day then we imagine.  Who knows? Perhaps I'm not as interesting as I think I am.

Anyway, moving on. I think I'll still post my book reviews here, and maybe the odd story or anecdote, which is why I'm writing today. There's a story worth preserving.

Facebook friends may recall a situation in May when a friend-of-a-friend's daughter, who had arrived for a summer job at Cedar Point--the bodacious amusement park in Ohio that my high school used to visit every year--found herself stranded at a motel on the highway, when the park wasn't ready for her as planned.

At first I thought it was spam, and started to move on. But then I looked again, and I thought that someone in the area might be willing to help; sure enough, Young Jeezy contacted a colleague at the Sandusky Public Library, who took Ivona to a grocery store, and has become, over the course of the summer, a friend and mentor. Good stuff. End of story.

Not quite.

I finally met her parents last week, when my colleague and his wife took me out for a thank-you-dinner. Her mother, a former English teacher, has worked for the European Union for 20 years, and her father, a chef, has held a number of jobs. We were up on one of the hills, at Belgrade's only ski slope and I was remarking on how rustic the vibe was, even though we were only ten minutes from downtown. "Oh yes," Sveta told me. "I hunt partridge only 2 kilometers away."

As another Niksicko draft arrived, I peppered him with questions about hunting and cooking game birds. He has a brittany spaniel to help and he likes to make soup and to cut up the birds before cooking them.

As we were saying goodbye, he told me that he was going hunting this weekend and would have me over for a partridge dinner. "Of course," I said, shaking his hand and basking in the glow of a nice dinner.

I didn't think any more of it, until Monday, when Srdjan asked me if I was free for dinner at Tanja and Sveta's tomorrow night. "Sure," I said, a little nervously, remembering some "macedonian specialties" from back in the day that I had not enjoyed nearly as much as my hosts might have believed from my expression.

But everything was top notch. Homemade rakija, roasted peppers, soup with dumplings, bread with garlic and cream cheese, and the birds, little bony flavor packets cooked in honey and wine. Dessert was a chocolate pancake stuffed with fruit and cream, washed down with a man-sized Turkish coffee.

I heard more about how Ivona is enjoying her summer as a carny, and we'll visit her when our rented winnebago makes a stop at the park on our way up to visit my grandmother in Michigan; it now features double the number of roller coasters than when I last visited (in 1988 I think). The BG is excited, as am I.

And that is the very improbable story of how a cry for help turned into a partridge dinner, which is worth preserving, I think.

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