Eskimo Pies

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Thanks to the efforts of a handful of special-education students, the modern marvel of takeout pizza has come to the Arctic Circle.

Two years ago, the students, from Hogarth Kingeekus High School in Savoonga, Alaska--on Saint Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, close to the Russian coast--sold sandwiches to the town store to raise funds for school equipment.

When their teacher, Linda Lueck, realized how popular the comestibles were, the class set its sights on expanding the student-work program and introducing the town of mainly Eskimo natives to America's favorite food.

It took another year for Ms. Lueck to receive permission for the project from the town elders, most of whom speak only their native Yupik, apply for a state grant, rent store space, and order baking equipment and ingredients from the mainland.

And that was the easy part.

Ms. Lueck and her students faced a problem that doesn't seem to exist in the "Northern Exposure'' version of Alaska: snow.

Bad weather grounded supply planes carrying the cooking equipment. Since the ingredients arrived before the freezer did, they were shuttled from home to home to keep them from rotting. When the oven finally arrived, the plug didn't match the store's electrical standard. Finally, the store's uncooperative furnace forced the student-cooks to work wearing coats and mittens.

Still, "Mr. Pizza'' has been doing land-office business since it opened in September, and plans are being developed to open another store and to deliver pizza--by plane--to the next village 40 miles away.

In the meantime, Savoonga's only restaurant offers a unique "you kill it, we'll grind it'' offer to customers who prefer an indigenous topping to their pizza.

Although the hunting season hasn't begun yet, Ms. Lueck expects to see a lot of reindeer, walrus, and, yes, polar bear to pass through the restaurant's doors.--S.K.G.

Vol. 12, Issue 09

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