Alpha Channel in Macedonia features a very popular cooking show that is a 15 minute segment shown three times/day. It’s called “Taste of Tradition” and the star of the show is sort of a Macedonian Martha Stewart (minus the jail-time) named Adriana Alaski (Адријана Аласки). A couple weeks ago she decided to shoot some regional segments and came to Kriva Palanka. My counterpart at the Municipality was in charge of organizing the visit and arranging all the logistics,
so naturally I was able to tag along, watch the shoot, and help eat some of the delicious aftermath. The first few segments were shot at the Monastery and the next day at a local (mostly outdoor) restaurant. The idea was that different ladies (Grandmothers or ‘Babas’) of the region would cook their specialties while our star assisted, asked questions about the recipes, and exclaimed how delicious everything was.
I helped with some prep work, and washed dishes when I wasn’t being quiet for the set and running errands. Apparently Adriana noticed my language errors (not too difficul!) and asked my counterpart about me.
Upon discovering I was American she was delighted to practice her English and told me
about her visit to the States. She then asked if I would mind commenting on the food of Macedonia for the cameras. Uhhhh…gotta check with the boss. (As is Peace Corps policy…they don’t want Volunteers saying anything controversial or anything that could negatively impact the program over here.)
After a quick call to my Country Director, he wholeheartedly endorsed the ‘foodie’ opportunity and all was a ‘go’. EXCEPT the afore-mentioned language difficulties!
All well and good, the cooking part of the segment was over, the original-clay-crockpot dish accomplished and plated, and the Grandma, Adriana and I were seated at the table with cameras rolling. (Why do I never carry make-up in my purse?) After a short discussion of the dish and a
recounting of the ingredients, Adriana turned to me and introduced me as the local American working in Kriva Palanka for the Peace Corps….and what did I think of the local food?…..but she’d asked me in Macedonian!
Quickly remembering it was taped and not ‘live’ I gave it my best shot and answered in Macedonian.
“The food here is delicious and I have gained weight wanting to try everything. I have become a regular “Palanchanka”…..or person from Palanka, kind of like a person from Florida is a Floridian. EXCEPT that instead of Palanchanka I said Palanchinka….which means Pancake!
Our hostess didn’t skip a beat as the professional she is and soon the segment was a ‘wrap’. After scattered laughter and applause I was informed of my mistake, but quickly reassured that everyone KNEW what I meant and it was very ‘cute’. I now have a new nickname here at the Municipality….Pancake!