Friday, January 14, 2011

Burned By Borscht

What is with me?  A few hours ago I spilled a boiling-hot bowl of borscht right onto my lap.  My left thigh is still a pinkish-red, and it still kind of hurts.  Making matters worse, a visit to my first-aid kit revealed that I have a serious—perhaps irrational—fear of diarrhea and its after-effects, but no burn cream.

The funny thing is, over the past few days I’d been scoping out a place to get a good bowl of traditional Ukrainian borscht, especially since I missed the borscht in Russia.  So imagine my surprise when this evening I found Natasha, one of the hostel’s administrators, chopping onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and other ingredients (including beetroot, I think) in preparation for making a big, steaming pot of Ukrainian borscht right here in the hostel kitchen. 

I didn’t want to be presumptuous, but from the looks of things, I figured there would be enough for me to get in on a taste.  I passed the evening mending clothing, organizing papers, chatting with my new roommate (a peace corps volunteer staying the night before catching a morning flight for the States), and watching Fargo for the first time beginning to end.   

The movie ended, and I was busy checking Wikipedia to see if Fargo really is based on a true story, when Natasha announced that the borscht was ready.  She ladled a portion for me and for some reason I returned with the bowl to my spot on the couch, rather than sit at the table like a prudent person would do with a hot bowl of soup.  I took one bite—which slightly burned the tip of my tongue—and decided to let it cool down before continuing. 

I don’t know what happened, but the next thing I knew, the bowl was completely upturned on my lap and my thighs were on fire.  Natasha’s mother, Larissa, quickly came over and took the bowl from me.  I dashed to the dormitory and removed the burning-borscht-soaked pants.  I then went into the bathroom and placed a cold compress on my thighs, with emphasis on the left one, which got the worst of it.

My legs felt okay for the moment, so I returned to the common area where my bowl—now sitting on the kitchen table—had been refilled with more borscht.  I sat enjoying it immensely, but also wondering in the back of my mind just how hot that McDonald’s-lawsuit cup of coffee had been, and to what extent the plaintiff in that case had been injured.   No, I’m not thinking of suing Natasha; I'm just hoping that I won't wake up in the morning with a permanent reminder of my first, delicious bowl of traditional, Ukrainian borscht.

On the bright side, it is another thing checked off my to-do list.  And, if I do need to see a doctor, I took a photo of the offending soup, in case I run up against a language issue.  I figure I’ll just point to the soup-picture, then to my lap, and everyone will get it. 

Mmm. Mmm. Aaaaaaaaahhhh!

Come to think of it, that is a clever, little tip.  Maybe that should go in my forthcoming guidebook, right next to, “Always sit at a table when your host offers you a steaming hot bowl of traditional, Ukrainian borscht;” and “Don't forget the burn cream.”