The Food Gods

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When my family brought out a carton of Popkeks on New Year's, I knew I was in the right house.

Some days, like yesterday, the Food Gods smile on me. I woke up craving chocolate, and after playing with A. and eating lunch, went to the store with her. There is a little store on the bottom floor of a family’s house about a five-minute walk from us. The first time I went there I had the flu and wanted only a Pop Kek (surely the finest expression of Macedonian snack food there is). The owner remembered my love of junk food the next few times I came in, and since then I’ve been struggling to establish myself as someone who does not buy these foods for herself, but for her five-year-old sister.

So, you know, I go to the store with A. because it’s a reliable and shame-free way of getting chocolate.

After eating our chocolate bars, walking to the pazar to see our “brother” Ar., and playing some more, I went to my counterpart’s house for an Albanian lesson. She had made chocolate cake, and again, the day got just a little better. About fifteen minutes before I left her sister went to buy ice cream bars from the store across from their house, and again, my day got a little better.

Not being sure that this chocolate fix would hold through the night, I went to the biggest grocery store in town, which I generally only go to when I want to buy a Ritter Sport Caramel Nut Bar, or a bottle of wine (that costs only slightly more than the Ritter Sport). You already know what I bought here.

Saturday is usually tavche gravche night, but yesterday my family made crepes. This being a meal they knew I could get behind, I was called in straight from my Albanian lesson. I fought through four crepes slathered with chocolate cream before refusing more, having hit that point at which all pleasure from the chocolate shifts over to nausea.

This is when they brought out the dessert, not “sugar money” but something very similar. Sugar money is, basically, cake soaked in sugar water. This was a pastry soaked in sugar water.

Sugar money

I’m going to stop wondering now why I’ve gained weight here. Actually, I can only marvel that I haven’t gained more weight, because until we hit that sugar money last night, I was thrilled by how my hopes for the day’s food had matched up so well with what I actually received. I often wake up excited for a certain meal, because I know my family’s schedule – every Tuesday and Saturday we have tavche gravche for dinner, and every Sunday pita for lunch. But yesterday…this was on a different level, with everyone I saw in town apparently conspiring to bring me exactly what I had hoped for upon waking.

I ended the day sitting on my sofa clutching my stomach, and knowing that today is both pita day and rescheduled tavche gravche night. Wish me luck.

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