In a continuation of my series of “odd things you do overseas that you would NEVER in a million years do in America” I bring you the latest installment: ordering $1,000 worth of frozen fish (and two cases of greenies because, dogs, duh).
Let me explain.
Here in Tbilisi, we are lucky enough to have a commissary that regularly stocks U.S. products we can’t find in town. Anything from coffee creamer to ziplock bags to Swiffer pads to Cheetos. Obviously, they occasionally need to replenish their supplies to support us needy Americans, so when they do they allow us to get in on the bulk order. Sean and I have been here for I think two commissary orders now and skipped out on the first one because 1) we really can find a lot of our favorite things in town, and 2) we simply didn’t get our act together to submit our paperwork on time.
I think once you reach the 6-8 month mark in your tour is when you start falling into the time where you do really odd things to satisfy your cravings. I remember during our Dushanbe tour I smuggled 20 avocados back from Dubai because I missed them goddamnit and who cares if they cost more than a car payment?! I’ve heard of people packing coolers full of meat they can’t find in their home country. I’m planning to stuff my suitcase full of Frontera salsa in Denver. So it’s no surprise that we fell prey to the allure of frozen delights we can’t find in town.
Ordering several cases of fish (or whatever your given vice may be) poses a problem: storage. When we moved into this house, I noticed immediately we had not been issued a stand-up freezer. We have a small European-style refrigerator with a teeny freezer, and then a second American-style refrigerator and freezer unit in our storage room. I didn’t worry about it much until we placed our frozen food order back in March. Where on earth was I going to store 90 pounds of fish (plus six loaves of Eziekel bread, cuz yeah, we did that too) in our small freezers?
I pondered several solutions. Obviously, I would have to clean out the two existing freezers as much as possible, but I didn’t really want to get rid of my carefully preserved butternut squash and vacuum-sealed chicken. But even if I cleaned out the two small freezers thoroughly, I doubt all the fish would fit. Then I thought, well, we have that industrial strength cooler we got from Sean’s parents for Christmas a few years ago, maybe I’ll put a bunch of stuff in there and change out the ice every few days. Clearly, I was getting desperate. My last idea was to shove as much in the freezers as we could and just eat the remainder as fast as possible. Here’s the point where I knew I’d gone too far.
Now I know you’re thinking, Kristen, why not just request a stand-up freezer from the Embassy? Isn’t that the most logical solution? Well yes, but here’s the rest of the issue. We have a reasonably small house. I love it dearly, but there really isn’t any storage space aside from the boiler room which is full of our electrical equipment, water tank, washer/dryer, approximately 200 canning jars (not exaggerating), and a bunch of holiday decorations. I honestly didn’t see how on earth a freezer would fit.
After further contemplating solutions to my storage issue, I came to the obvious conclusion: I’d have to ask for a freezer and make it work. Even if that meant it would sit in the very center of the room, or if I had to move some of our decorations, or some other nonsense. So last week I submitted the order, got it approved, and to my surprise, our magicians in the property section managed to wrestle it into a happy home between the washer and dryer. Oddly, the addition of this large appliance created more space in that cramped room since I was able to pile stuff on top of it. I shouldn’t be surprised this solution was much more straightforward than initially thought. This isn’t the first time I was too stubborn for my own good.
So today was the glorious day I was summoned to the Embassy to pick up our frozen food order. I’m pleased to say everything fit into our stand up freezer, and we will be enjoying SO MUCH FISH from now until the end of our tour.
I’m also excited since this order arrived just in time for Good Friday and a good old fashioned fish fry. You can take the girl out of the Wisconsin, but you can’t take the Wisconsin out of the girl.