We invited the neighbors in our building up for an Oscar party Sunday night. An informal movie exchange often takes place among us with the $1.25 DVD's we pick up around town. As a result, living in Ecuador we had actually seen more of the nominated films this year than we ever did in the States. Go figure.
Our dinner began with a salad featuring Zesty Italian dressing made from those little packets of dried herbs that are always on the top shelf in the grocery store. Well, in the States that's where they are. Here they are nonexistent. That's one of those easy-to-put-in-the-suitcase items we're so thankful we packed (yeah we brought the special bottle with the oil/vinegar/water lines too), because our bottled dressings in the Supermaxi are less than great.
The main course was pizza from the new Papa John's. I wrote optimistically about this franchise's sudden appearance on the scene here, but when I went to check the place out their prices were astronomical! A large pizza with 3 ingredients was over $17, an amount that would buy Cynthia & me two filet mignon dinners.
But PJ's has introduced an almost unheard of concept in Cuenca--the coupon. In the States they're everywhere--in the mid-week food section of the newspaper--in the special sections of the Sunday paper--in the mail--in those Entertainer books kids are always selling for their schools. I'll admit we were coupon clippers and ate our share of 2 for 1 dinners over the years.
Here coupons are nonexistent. Oh, the grocery store has percentage discounts on certain categories of merchandise on certain days--I bought a dozen roses last week for $1.65--and some clothing stores similarly have % off signs in their windows occasionally. So the 3 medium 1 topping pizzas for $21 coupon was a pleasant surprise that we were happy to take advantage of.
The next issue was delivery. Knowing the "timeliness" track record, we were bracing ourselves for an interminable wait. Amazingly, it didn't happen. We were shocked when 30 minutes or so after placing the order our buzzer rang, we looked out the window, and I'll be damned, there was a guy on a motor scooter holding 3 pizzas.
Finally, the taste test. We ordered a pepperoni, a sausage, and a bacon pizza. Would they taste the same as in the US? The consensus of our group was: #1 they were bigger than a small and smaller than a medium, and #2 while not identical they were by far the best pizza any of us had consumed in Cuenca. PJ's even included the pepper and the little container of garlic butter! Nice touch.
Enough about the food. What about the show? I thought it was horrible. The producers were apparently attempting to reach out to a younger audience by having James Franco and Anne Hathaway co-host. That didn't work out too well, did it? James kind of stood there not even looking at the camera with a goofy, stoned expression plastered on his face and Anne felt like she was just trying too damn hard. When Billy Crystal came out you could feel the audience thinking, "PLEASE stay up there & keep talking!"
There were no major surprises (minor one for Best Director); most of the dresses were an abomination; even the songs sucked, especially that Randy Newman "tune" that won. What? This is strictly my opinion (but it's my blog, so what the hell)--when a British film wins Best Picture, it was a bad year at the movies. "Chariots of Fire?" Yawn. "My Left Foot?" Double yawn. Now "The King's Speech?" Hey, it was well done and marginally interesting, but the best of the whole year? God help us--and God save the Queen.