Today, at the dining hall, was a quintessential Minnesota moment. It perfectly embodied the two qualities I most associate with Minnesota: incredibly friendly and helpful, and somewhat insular and unaware of the practices of other cultures.
It's passover right now, and that means no bread. Sad for me. Here in Northfield, the majority of the residents (which includes most of our dining hall staff) know absolutely nothing about Passover. They know it's going on right now, because the dining hall tries to accommodate us poor, afflicted Jews, but they know nothing of the specifics.
Anyway, one of the ways the college tries to ease the burden on us Jews is by having Matzah Pizza available every night. Tonight, when I got to the dining hall, however, there was no sign for Matzah Pizza. I asked the person working nearest to where the Matzah Pizza normally is served if they had it this evening. What followed was rather amazing (and amusing).
She said she wasn't sure, but she'd ask if there was someone who could make it for me. This request bounced around no less than five dining hall employees, most of whom did not even know what Matzah Pizza was. The dining hall was serving Mexican pizza on flatbread this evening, and at one point several of them gathered around that pizza to debate whether that qualified as "Matzah Pizza." I should note that the term "Matzah" was used only intermittently, more often it was referred to as "the cracker." Finally, I intervened on the side of those who (correctly) were arguing that Matzah Pizza was like any other personal pizza they make all the time, but on Matzah instead of pizza crust.
The original woman whom I asked then proceeded to get to work, but first asked "with no cheese right"? Slightly confused, I assured her that, no, cheese was fine. Now it was her turn to be confused. "But cheese is a dairy product." Apparently, her overseer at told her that Jews couldn't eat dairy (during Passover?). I explained that we could eat dairy, just not along with meat, and that this prohibition was a year-round thing, not just during passover.
Eventually, the pizza was made and she brought it over to my table (this was very nice of her, as normally we students just pick it up ourselves). It was delicious.