Pizza In Mongolia
Over the past month Judy and I have been working on having all of our students over for dinner. Given our limited cooking, seating, and eating facilities, and in the interest of introducing our Mongolian students to something new, we have been teaching them how to make pizza. It is not a skill that I am an expert in, but it is one that, with a dozen hungry students due to arrive any minute, I have been able to pick up on quickly. (Two bags of flour, a little pile of salt in the palm; water, sugar to proof, and yeast.) I hope that much sounds at least a little familiar to real pizza makers, Jo. The rest is as close as we could get—sauce from whatever we can find with sauteed onions and garlic and dried oregano; onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes, sausage of some sort or another, and cheese, sometimes in pre wrapped slices, sometimes smoked in a log.(It's the best we could do since the Mongolian cheese we've tried doesn't melt.)
There is not a lot to teach Mongolians about making pizza except to point them in the right direction. All the women and most of the men are competent bakers and handle dough and a rolling pin fluently. We make rectangular pizzas because we have rectangular pans. Once rolled out there is usually a crowd waiting to dress the pizza, and then to have pictures taken with it before it goes into the oven—and more pictures as it comes out.
While waiting, the students are doing what I am do when I go into their homes. I realize that for the past eight months I have been taking pictures of what is unusual and interesting. Invariably, the students take pictures of the kitchen sink, with its running water.