Chauvinism at 350° (Lease Fineprint)

Just three weeks to go until my dissertation is due so I’ve been quite occupied, but this story you had to hear…

I swear my oven in Belgrade is cursed. I can cook anything on the stovetop and anything that doesn’t require precision (chicken, potatoes, roasted vegetables, nachos, meatballs..etc.) works out fine in the oven. Since I’ve moved to Belgrade I haven’t been able to bake anything that requires precision. Breads. Cakes. Muffins. Cookies. Even pies. True story: I used to bake all the time in Canada. Almost every single day. Without issues. But since I got the Bosch curse nothing works out. Today, my landlord, the guy who is a dentist by trade but believes he is an electrician, plumber…(insert every profession that you can do for free yourself), came to look at my oven today while he was fixing one of the toilets. (If we wake up to flood #5 tomorrow, I’ll let you know.) Anyway, I explained the problem to him and he could not/would not understand or believe me.

So, we tested my theory.

He made me put a loaf of bread in the oven (already baked), turned the broiler on high and when the loaf was toasted 10 minutes later, he said, “there! See! It works.” Hmmm…

I explained that precision was required for baking and that it took me 40 minutes to bake a 20 minute loaf, and it still was white and raw afterward. I showed him the muffins I baked that were still raw on the inside, explaining that I even baked them 10 minutes longer than the recipe required.  This is not an issue of low heat. If I turn it up any higher, whatever I’m baking burns on the outside and is raw inside. Fix-it-guy said that as long as I put my heat the highest it could go, then turn the heat down while I was baking, everything should be fine. (Face palm of all face palms.) Even better, he told me to get a Serbian woman to show me how to use my oven. This, of course, is just before he told me that women in Serbia are “down here” (waves hand at ass level), below men. (He ACTUALLY said this.)  I told him I was smart enough to use an oven as I had been successfully baking (and winning awards for it, no less), for many years and that it was obvious we weren’t going to agree. I told him I’m buying an oven thermometer to see if there is a difference in temperature between the thermometer and the oven setting. He said, “I don’t understand these high tech things you have in Canada. Maybe you can’t find that here.” A thermometer. Serbs, help me out on this one. I know with all my heart you’re smart enough to know the type of guy I’m talking about because they’re often your landlords, too.

But the chauvinist landlord I have could see that I was upset and didn’t want to leave on bad terms. So he said, “Shauna, the most important thing is that you look good. Much better than before (hahaha!), and you are popular, everyone likes you.” At which point he kisses three of his fingers and left.  (Probably kicking all the stray cats on his way out.)

This is the problem with Serbia. Lord bless all the women and give all the good men strength to squish the archaic ones.

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Author: S.L.Luck

Writer of fiction, non-fiction, and stories in between.

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