Buckwheat Tart with Jerusalem Artichokes, Leeks, and Gorgonzola

Dear Oleńka,

Who gets into a stranger’s car?

I don’t think I can think of any circumstances under which I would willingly get into a private vehicle with someone I don’t know in the U.S., unless he was an Uber driver. Here, though, it’s completely normal (and remarkably safe) to stick your hand out and flag down a random car when you’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry. You give the driver the intersection to which you’re heading and negotiate a price (which increases exponentially in relation to how foreign you seem). Often, they inquire as to whether you’re married and how many children you have (if anyone asks, my husband’s name is Artur and he’s a lawyer in Warsaw. We have a two-year-old named Ania. I’m from Poland, by the way). Sometimes they ask you to dinner regardless. Other times they tell you about their service in the Soviet army, traversing Eurasia by train in order to accompany a shipment of tanks from Kaliningrad or buying Polish clothes in Lithuania. Sometimes they don’t talk to you at all.

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Posted on April 14, 2015 .