Pizza Nights

Ordering delivery pizza is one of the items on my “Return to the U.S.” bucket list.

I imagine Googling the number of one the pizza restaurants in Pierre and placing an order for a small vegetarian and a large of whatever my parents want. Our pizza will arrive in the hands of a high school kid and we’ll exchange a check, with a little extra, for the steaming boxes. With the full plates and glasses, we will settle into recliners separated by a lit Christmas tree as the fire roars off to one side.

Of course, this little daydream is not about the pizza but about the company and having one of those ordinary nights that seem so incredibly special when you can’t make them happen with an email at 3:55 p.m. that says, “How about pizza for dinner tonight?”

Although you can get pizza in Lesotho, it is still considered a treat. A few of the hotels in the district capitols, which we call camp towns, have it listed on their menus and will surely make it for you if they have all the ingredients, which isn’t always a given, but it is never quite as what we remember about American pizza. In Maseru, there is a better selection, including a few places that will deliver, and I always make it a point to have pizza once on vacation. Even though the dish is of Italian origins, it always tastes like home, even if slightly off.

In village, you can’t place an order on some fancy app or pick up something frozen from the grocery store. If you want pizza, you have to make it yourself, granted that you remembered to pick up all the ingredients the last time you were in the camp town and if store had them in stock.

During pre-service training, Katie and Caitlin, my closest volunteer neighbors in our village, and I decided to make pizza on our own as Caitlin had learned from a veteran PCV. We bought cheese, tomato paste, tomatoes, onions, green pepper, flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Caitlin prepared the dough ahead of time so it could rise and Katie and I helped cut vegetables for the sauce. We took one-third of the dough and put it into a greased aluminum dish and then added toppings. The plate then went into a big pot, sitting atop a small can, on the two-gas burner that is a volunteer’s only cooking apparatus. We did this three times, splitting each pie into thirds. Pizza night at Caitlin’s became our training tradition.

During service, we made pizza with those that lived closer to us, as the three of us were spread throughout the country, but whenever we could manage visits to one’s site we always knew what was for dinner.

These pizza nights are some of my favorite memories because we gossiped and giggled together during the few hours it took to make the meal that is so easily obtained in the U.S. Maybe we were cutting vegetables by candlelight and making runs to the toilet outside, but on pizza night – or Mexican night, fettuccini Alfredo night or Caesar salad wrap night with any grouping of volunteers – for a few hours, everything in our world was familiar and comforting. We weren’t strangers in a foreign land, but friends catching up without few distractions. It was great pizza because it was great company.

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2 thoughts on “Pizza Nights

  1. Chinese dumpling night was my favorite and it only required white flour, “eiee” from the garden, and an egg or two from “Me,” oh and two hours to mix, knead, roll, and fold the dumplings. You could almost imagine that you were home, or in China, depending on how you felt.

Discsuss, please

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