Prague Twin

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Albanian Pizza

I work up in Liberec, about 60 miles (100 km) north of Prague.

On Thursdays, I usually drive up to nearby Jablonec to hang out with the only other American I know in the area. We went to a pizza place that we have frequented many times. I knew that the guys running the place were from the former Yugoslavia, but I didn't know from where exactly.

George is an extremely friendly host. He usually can't think of anything to say when he gets to the table, but he seems genuinely happy to see as when we come in. Nieto is the pizza cook, and since the pizza oven is right next to the bar, and within the main dining room, we chat with him a bit as well. At some point, Ivan (my American friend) and I happen upon the subject of where these guys are from. Ivan, (being the abrasive, curious type) practically yells out in Czech "Georgie, where are you from?" George, looking a little surprised, replies, "Yugoslavia." Ivan counters with, "But WHERE?" George, now on the spot, turns bright red and meekishly says "Kosovo." Then he disappeared into the main kitchen for a while.

Later, we got to see Nieto's UN project's ID card showing he was from Kosovo. The tention was palpable as we wondered if they were Albanian refugees. One thing I've learned about people who are refugees of these wars, is that the scars are usuallly deep and fresh. Asking someone "where are you from" brings up frightening and painful memories from most of the people you talk to. However, when approached with genuine interest, they are usually willing to share their stories. I approached Nieto and George about interviewing them for my blog. I didn't want to ask what there nationality is, because I wanted them to know I was interested in their stories, no matter from what perspective. They were understandibly cautious about giving me any promises.

We had a great dinner and some drinks, and lots of laughs. When we were leaving, I asked George if it was "George" or "Georgie" as Ivan had been calling him all night. He said, "George. Like George Bush." I couldn't help but to ask, "Do you like George Bush?" He looked me dead in the eye with grave seriousness and said, "Why not?" I shrugged, and he continued, "But Clinton! Clinton is the best!" Again, I had to ask why. He thought for a moment and said with 100% sincerity, "Because he helped us very much."

I really hope I can get that interview.


  • Food opens up people no matter what the past or the current situation is. It's good to meet people and talk just about anything but its interesting to find out someone's past. I'm sure you'll get that interview sometime soon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:18 PM  

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