The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Thursday, April 8

A Pie Plate

Sometimes wanting something is more than half of the pleasure of getting it. The mind has time to image anticipation. Over and over, the story is replayed and refined and savored. When the day of getting finally arrives, it almost feels like a special event.

And so it was in my quest for a pie plate.

For several months, I wanted a pie plate I have been thinking that it would be nice to make a dessert when I get invited to a family dinner. Pies are not common in Ukraine. So a homemade apple pie would be so American and a special way to say thanks.

Unlike America, there is no Wall Mart. I cannot just drive to the Mall and choose from a dozen possibilities.

No, in Ukraine, you have to hunt. Different shops specialize in different products. If you want bedding, you go to the bedding shop. If you want fish, you go to the fish shop. And if you want a pie plate, you need to find a shop with household goods.

In Konotop, we do have a “Department Store.” It’s like I imagine our grandmothers once shopped at. It’s small about a quarter of the size of a dollar store.

There are no consumer friendly shelves. Everything is behind the counter. Rarely are prices marked making it difficult to comparison shop. You must ask to be shown everything.

I am in the cosmetic section trying to buy tooth paste. “How much is that one,” as I point to the shelf behind the clerk? “No, not that one…a little further to the right.” Of course, I am doing this all in Russian, my version of Russian. It’s amazing that I end up with Colgate Total.

In another section are plates, cups and vases. They are all displayed in square cases made of glass and dark mahogany framing. The cases stand about seven feet tall and glisten from the sun streaming in the front door.

If you want a closer look at an item, you must get the case unlocked. I think you must really want something in order to ask to have the case unlocked. Otherwise, it is too intimidating. I have been in the shop many times and have never seen the case unlocked.

The “Department Store” did have one oven-safe plate, but it was big and oblong. I wanted a small round one. “No, we do not have,” said the clerk. Instead of being annoyed, I found myself bemused and drawn into the quest. “Where will I find a pie plate,” I thought?

Of course, I could have asked a Ukrainian friend. But this time I wanted to do it on my own. After all, I have been in Ukraine for an entire year and it is time for me to navigate all by myself. If I can now buy my own train ticket, surely I can find a suitable pie plate.

I went to several other stores, but no pie plates were to be found. The challenge intensified. I branched out to hardware stores. I recalled that sometimes they carry house hold items. One hardware shop had a glass plate, but it was square. I was running out of options.

On Saturday, I got up early and made my way to the Bazaar. As I got close to the Bazaar, I saw a small shop that had a few plate and cup sets in the window.

“Maybe I will find one here,” I thought. I had written the Russian words for pie plate and a small dialogue on a card so that I could more easily and correctly ask.

But again, the answer was “Nyet.”

I think I sounded a little desperate when I asked, “But where?” The kind woman smiled and beckoned me to follow her outside. She pointed out a yellow building about three blocks away. I thanked her and scurried up the street.


In the shop were several choices. There was a small and round one, a pretty ceramic one and a spring cake pan which might also double as a deep dish pie pan. I went for the spring cake pan and its versatility. And maybe with my next Peace Corps allowance, I will return for the small ceramic one. My quest was complete.

In America shopping is often on automatic pilot. We hurry into the mega market, pick up a few things and then drive home. There are so many ways to be instantly satisfied.

Maybe it sounds silly, but I think I will enjoy my spring cake pan more because of the hunt and anticipation.

On Easter Sunday, I was invited to a family dinner. I made an apple cake. It was delicious. I noticed a sister-in-law of my host snatching a second piece. "Perfect," I thought.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your adventure when shopping for a pie plate. I had the same idea as you. I too wanted to know if they had pie plates to buy in Ukraine. Now I know it would be much easier to bring quite a few and leave the plate for my relatives to use after I had gone back to Canada since this may be my last visit. What a wonderful gift to leave behind!