Published: April 19th 2006April 19th 2006
It was hard for me to imagine what a "traditional" Easter would be like here in Catholic country because back home, Easter's been diluted down to "spring break" and I don't even know anyone who goes to church.
Bunch of heathens!
I arrived Saturday morning at 4.07 at the Kaunas bus station. Renata and her Dad, Sigmund (sp), picked me up and took me back to their house. After I took a much needed shower, Renata and I went back to sleep until almost past 10, when her Mom woke us and had a yummy breakfast ready.
Ohh... It was yummy... Did I already say that? I didn't take any photos then because I didn't want them to think I'm photo journaling 'the life and times of a typical Lithuanian family during Easter'. That would've been a bit awkward. Her Mom had made this delicious kefir beet soup with eggs, onions and parsley, and along side of it was some mashed potatoes. (And then there was meat stuff that I didn't eat. ) Simple yet delicious.
While we were eating, they asked me a bunch of questions about where I'm from, where I've been, what my family
is like... And as I answered them in English, Renata translated the answers into Lithuanian. It was frustrating at times because the parents spoke Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, and German/English, in order of competance with a sharp drop off at Polish, and I couldn't communicate with them beyond saying thank you and yes/no. That really bummed me out, everything had to be translated and not everything was translated.
After eating, they took me out to see old town Kaunas. They had a weird sense of humor about it. They stopped the car near the Kaunas Castle -- or what was left of it -- and had me and Renata go out and take a peek. Then we got back into the car and drove to see the various churches. At times they would ask me if this/that church looked good compared to the ones I've seen in Krakow. And sometimes they would just say things like, there's really not much in Kaunas, we should goto Vilnius.
There's nothing wrong with Kaunas, it's a quaint town with many old churches. Renata's Dad didn't come out of the car for all of the tour, he wanted to stay and read his
book on WW II. I suppose the war was something we had in common and could talk about, if only we shared a common language.
And then, I can't remember how the conversation came about, but there it was, here I present you with a big sack of shitake mushrooms, fresh (well, dried) from Taiwan! They had never seen shitakes before and probably didn't know how to cook them, so Renata's Mom suggested that I cook them dinner. Oy. What did I get myself into!
Renata's Mom wanted me to buy some souveniors and so we went into a few shops in the old town. I felt a bit bad that she paid for me, but Renata said she (her mom) wanted me to have a gift? So I bought a little magnet, a postcard, and a bookmark.
I got the impression that they are probably slightly below average as far as income level goes and I thought about insisting that I pay for everything myself. But I felt awkward saying so. On one hand I didn't want to be a burden, but on the other, I didn't want to pour cold water on their hospitality. WWJD?!
Easter Eggs (close up)
Isn't that a pretty Easter egg? I sure thought so.
Ok, bad joke.
We stopped at a grocery store on our way home to buy the items I would need for making everyone dinner. I didn't know what they would like but I thought that a pasta dish should pass over well. Everyone likes pasta, right?
The receipe I had in mind was stir fried beet greens (the green leaves from the beets) with shitake, but when I was in the grocery store I found out that they didn't sell beet greens. They didn't even have fresh beets for that matter b/c we're in the wrong season? This caught me totally off guard. Back home we get everything in the stores regardless of the season... and I had no idea that the kefir beet soup from the morning had been made with *canned* beets.
So down to plan B: Stir fried chard with shitake and pasta. But unfortunately they didn't sell chard in the store either, so down to plan C: Stir fried leeks with shitake. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel there... Leeks they had, and leeks we bought!
The kitchen didn't catch on fire, the food didn't burn, and no one got diarrhea, so I have to say that it was a success. :-)
Renata's boyfriend, Aidas, joined us for dinner and he seemed to like it a lot. But then again, he was really hungry so it probably didn't matter what I cooked.
All in all, it was a fine day.
Sigmund washed the dishes while Renata, Aidas, and I looked at some photos on the internet. And then Renata's Mom (is it too obvious that I have forgotten her name?) started to make the Easter eggs.
I had assumed she would boil some eggs, paint them or dye them, and that would be that. But it was a bit more complicated than that. She had 3 packs of dye (red, blue and green) and so she had to boil 3 sets of eggs. But for each of the colors, she wanted the eggs to have patterns, so she wrapped around some of them leaves from the forest or onion skins, held in place by mesh and string. Hard to imagine? Well, that's why I took photos. They turned out sooo pretty. Kicks American plastic Easter eggs ass.
And after they were done, she gave each a coat of oil to make them glossy.
By morning the oil is absorbed and they look very nice, indeed.