I scurried home to discover a man with several large boxes standing outside my apartment building. Perfect timing, for this was the pie delivery man! Yes, Russia has pie delivery. And the U.S. thinks it’s so advanced….
The man kindly walked the pies up the stairs and deposited them in my kitchen. For a split second I was worried about having an unfamiliar man in my apartment while I was alone, but there was nothing shady at all. I should have known. This was the famous Shtolle pie shop, not some fly-by-night pie banditry operation. I put the kettle on to boil, threw my dirty clothes and other clutter in the closet and arranged chairs in the living room/bedroom for the guests.
First to arrive was Lyuda, a whip-smart Russian language teacher with a dry sense of humor. She was armed with several bottles of wine. These are my friends, after all. We sat down and gossiped for a bit. Anya and Katya showed up next bearing still more alcohol and some juice. You already know Anya from previous adventures; Katya is the mother of triplets who has a hollow leg. We retired to the living room and I put on some music on my laptop. This is really not a good solution…it’s so tinny. I need to find some inexpensive portable speakers. I started to think maybe we would have been better off without music at all.
We opened up the pie boxes and surveyed our bounty: two savory and two sweet pies. One cabbage pie, one with mushroom and rabbit, one with brusnika and one lemon. Brusnika is sometimes translated as cowberry. But what the hell is a cowberry? All I can tell you is that it is tarter than a cranberry but with a less bitter edge. As long as there’s a little sweetener, brusnika is heaven.
Consensus reigned in pie evaluation. The best savory pie was the cabbage. We felt that the mushroom and rabbit tried too hard. The best sweet pie was the brusnika. The lemon pie was far too sweet. Another thing was also terribly clear: there was about four times as much food as was needed.
The doorbell soon rang and Polisha, Anya’s 19-year-old daughter, came trudging up the stairs. She was in the middle of her college exams and today was her physical education exam so she was a little tired. She laughed with us for a while and then mother and daughter went to the kitchen to re-connect. Polisha lives in the dormitory now so Anya doesn’t get to see her as often. This pie party was an excellent excuse to get her on our side of town.
The party petered out after Polisha left. It was Friday, everyone was tired from the week and we had all eaten and drunk ourselves into a stupor. I forced leftover pie on the girls and got ready for bed. I was reading through my facebook messages and I got one from an old friend. It said, “Is everyone in Moscow freaking out about Nemstov?” Huh, I thought to myself. Why is Eric even talking about Nemstov? He’s still stuck in the 90s, I guess. I went to sleep without giving it another thought.