You never know who you’re going to end up sitting beside on a plane. You could be stuck beside some armrest-stealing leg-spreader who doesn’t understand the concept of either deodorant or earphones, or you could get a like-minded soul with whom you can chat effortlessly for the whole journey.
When strike-action grounded many flights in Italy last month, Arūnas was forced to overnight in Naples (yes, my heart bled for him!) and was then rerouted home via Turkey, adding about 10 hours to the flight time. Weary, he boarded the plane in Istanbul, took his seat and waited to see who would sit beside him. Given how the trip had gone so far he was fully expecting a leg-spreader and so was delighted when instead he found himself sitting beside a woman with many shared interests. Among the many things they chatted about she mentioned that she ran summer camps for kids in a small Lithuanian village the far side of Vilnius. Before they was off the plane Arūnas had volunteered to help out for a day of the camp, with him giving a talk about travel and exercise and me doing a pizza demo.
I’ve never done a live demo before but I loved the idea. Kids love pizza and I would keep it short and sweet, hopefully keeping their attention for a few minutes until we got to the good part – where they all got to roll and decorate their own pizza!
Yesterday we were up early to make the long drive over to the camp. I made a few batches of dough before we left so that it would have plenty of time to rise in the warm car. We arrived and met the organisers and kids, all a lovely bunch. Arūnas talked about countries he had visited and then we chatted a bit about Ireland (which included a long conversation about the Loch Ness monster!!!) Then we got set up for the demo, slicing veg and meats and grating cheese. The kids settled around the table and listened intently (!) as I showed them how to make the dough and sauce. I deliberately chose to do everything by hand – no fancy electrical equipment – so they’d know they could make it at home even if they only had basic kitchen tools.
I finished by adding sauce and toppings to the pizza, and then attempted to slide it onto the pizza paddle to transfer to the oven. And it wouldn’t budge. I teased and coaxed and gently lifted edges, beads of sweat (partly from exertion, but mostly from panic!) appearing on my brow. Eventually I got it onto the board, albeit a little less pretty than it had been. We popped it in the oven and 90 seconds later – voila! – we had pizza! I cut it into tiny slices so everyone could have a taste. They loved it. Phew!
To avoid a repeat of pizza getting stuck we sprinkled the whole table liberally with flour. The main outcome of this was floury kids! They all happily created their pizzas, some aiming to pack as much on top as possible, others creating artistic designs. All were cooked in the open fire while the kids watched and waited patiently. There were lots of happy faces as they sat down to eat their pizza!