Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Odd encounter at the deli

Last week, I stopped quickly by Vero to pick up some groceries, like I do almost daily. This particular day there was no line for the deli counter, so I decided to pick up a few things. Usually, the section is crowded and with no number system, it can be very frustrating dealing with the rudeness of those who arrive after you, yet order before you...especially the macho men, who don't think it necessary to wait. With no risk of being aggravated, I asked the clerk for "plovna kilo of podravec" and was surprised by her reaction. I know my Macedonian is quite lacking, but I have never had trouble buying a half kilo of cheese before. She pointed at the cheese in the cooler and repeated Mlejko, Mlejko over and over again. I was confused. Of course the cheese is made with milk, aren't most of them? She seemed adamant that I be aware of this fact and seemed to not want to give me any! I asked in English if there was a problem with the cheese, had it spoiled? She said no and reluctantly sliced it for me. Given her odd reaction to the Podravec(Swiss-like cheese, great on Triscuits), I decided to forgo asking for the mozzarella! I left quite confused and wondering if maybe it had something to do with it being the month of Ramadan. Had she thought I was an Albanian Muslim? That didn't seem to make sense either since I don't remember Muslims avoiding dairy during Ramadan. A friend suggested maybe there is yet another Orthodox holiday fasting period going on, and that scenario is probably most likely. I recall Gordana discussing how she abstained from eggs, meat, and dairy prior to Easter and Christmas. Maybe there is another event/holiday on the horizon and she was trying to help me stay in the good graces! Religion is very important to the Macedonians and that was very evident at the deli that day.

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