“What is that?”
“Kubasa! Or kielbasa or kolbasa or kol-bay-ezz…” Christine trailed off as she mangled the Hungarian pronunciation on the sign in front of her. “You know, kubies.”
Lloyd was unimpressed. “I know it’s a kubasa. The sign is right there. What I mean is, why is there a 30-foot statue of it?”
Lloyd glared at her. “Not helping.” To be honest, the massive fibreglass statue of a garlic sausage was impressive. But not in the awe-inspiring way that Christine had hoped.
Christine sighed. “It’s to commemorate the sausage factory. Supporting the local economy and all that.”
Lloyd pulled his thin jacket tighter around him. April was not a good time of year to wander around outside in the prairies. “A sausage factory? That’s it?”
“That’s not enough?” Christine was wearing one of those jackets that were denim on the outside and shearling wool on the inside. It didn’t look like it should be warm enough, but she wasn’t shivering.
“Look, we’ve been on the road for a week touring around. We’ve seen the big goose, the big beaver, the big piggy bank—”
“But this is the first one where we could actually sample what the town is memorialising. C’mon, it’ll be fun. And I’m hungry. Please?” She gave him a beseeching look.
He looked away and focused on the towering sausage links above them. Streamers hung off them, faded by the sun, and a couple of benches had been installed to allow people to truly wallow in the statue’s beauty.
They weren’t even in a very pretty area. Most monuments they had visited were in parks, but the kubasa was smack in the centre of downtown. Trucks roared by on the highway trailing the smell of exhaust. There was a gas station across the street that looked as greasy as the homemade sausages probably were.
“Fine. Where’s the best place to go for kubies?”
They ended up at a Ukrainian cafe that served heaping piles of perogies and seven different types of sausage. It was enough to make Lloyd’s cholesterol spike just looking at it.
“You’ve been quiet,” Christine said. She stole Lloyd’s sour cream and spread it over her perogies before dumping a bunch of bacon bits over it.
Lloyd ate his lunch more sedately. He had already picked all the fried onions off and pushed them closer for Christine to take. “No, I haven’t. I’m just contemplating the next Giant Thing we’ll have to see.” He held up a perogy on his fork. “They got one of these somewhere?”
Christine grinned, and he knew he distracted her. “They do, actually. About an hour away. And there’s still the giant potatoes and the giant pysanka—”
“The Easter egg, keep up. There’s a whole meal out there in giant statue form.”
“Why are people so obsessed with food?” he grumbled into his coffee. He hoped it didn’t show on his face, but it was the best coffee he’d had in weeks. No need for Christine to have another reason to gloat.
“Because it’s what makes people people,” Christine said. She pulled one foot up on the chair and ignored the glance of the waiter. “You ever have something so important to you that you wanted to show it off for everyone to see?”
No sculptor would be able to get her dimples just right. Out loud, he said, “I owned a pretty cool guitar once. Does that count?”
Christine scoffed, but her smile gave her away. “Food is how people carry parts of themselves around.”
“I prefer a backpack.”
She barreled on. “You think we’d be here in North-of-Wherever, Alberta, eating Ukrainian food if people didn’t bring it with them?” She speared a perogy loaded dangerously high with sour cream and took a bite. “Food is memory,” she said around the mouthful.
He watched her eat with a grimace. “Can I forget this particular moment?”
They went outside afterwards to take another look at the kubasa. The links weren’t symmetrical and that bothered Lloyd for some reason. “Here.” He held out a plastic bag. “I got this while you were in the bathroom.”
Christine lifted an eyebrow as she took it, then laughed. “You bought me sausage.”
“The kind they make here, you know, local economy and whatnot.” He gave her a small smile. “Figured you’d want a memory of this place.”
“Thanks, man.” She grinned at the butcher paper–wrapped parcel before taking a deep breath. “Right. Want to hit up the giant perogy next? It’s 150 clicks that way.” She pointed down the highway.
They headed west, literally driving off into the sunset. Christine acted as navigator with an honest-to-god actual map because it was “more authentic that way” and getting lost was half the adventure. Lloyd grinned as he pulled down the sunshade.