Every summer, scores of young men and women from Eastern European and Russia come to Mount Desert Island to staff the inns, restaurants, and shops for the season. They work hard, practice their English, and earn money for school and helping their families back home.
We've gotten to know some of the fellows who have worked at our inn. The young women, who clean the rooms, are often shy and speak very little English. But the men tend to be grad students, and are more outgoing as they interact with guests. We see more of them because they work in the kitchen, serve breakfast, help the innkeepers, and occasionally take a dip in the pool with us.
The Serbs at our inn have all been tall, dark, handsome, quiet gentlemen. Each one is sent by the previous summer's fellow — a network of young foreigners helping slightly younger ones to get jobs abroad. They all study finance and economics, too.
The workers from our inn spend their afternoons and evenings slaving at the Little Notch, the town's best bakery and pizza restaurant. The women work the counter while the guys make pizza. With several big ovens, the kitchen is like an oven itself, and I feel really sorry for all of them. But it doesn't stop me from ordering lots of pizza. One of the advantages of befriending the inn's Serb is that he will make you a "special" pizza if he likes you.
All of the pizza at the Little Notch is wonderful, but a "special" pizza is extraordinary. Here's one our friend made for us with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and fresh ricotta. We're talking serious topping overload:
It was one of the best and most beautiful pizzas I can remember in my life, and I made sure to tell the whole staff that. Frankly, almost all Boston pizza pales in comparison, except for the original Regina's, of course.
On our next visit to the island, we've been advised to order "Serbian pizza," which is mushrooms, ham, and bacon, among other things. We hear it's never on the menu but it's the secret password to pizza nirvana. We're looking forward to that.