MY FAVOURITE EUROPEANS

Hungarians are traditionally scientific thinkers. They have excelled in technology, business, maths and  industry.  Some examples are:

Edward Teller – came up with the theory behind A Bomb

John von Newumann – invented basic computer language

Andy Grove – founded Intel in USA

Erno Rubic – Rubics cube

They invented the carburetor, horse drawn coach, concept of nuclear chain reaction, holography (3D image) and the telephone exchange.

 As far as the arts go, Franz Liszt, the classical composer, was Hungarian.

Hungarian sportsmen are famous for water sports : swimming, canoeing, water polo.

In the average family three members live together.

The average gross wage  is €850/month, with most money spent on housing. There are high taxes and high inflation.

The older people are old fashioned, nostalgic, very polite, formal and professional. Hand kissing is still done by older men and doors are held open.  The waiter in a fancy restaurant greets you with ‘please command me’.

Gypsys or Roma

There is a high population of Gypsy, Roma or Sinta people who live in Hungary.  There are different clans with the poorest being Albanians, then Romanian and Hungarian. They get €60 month unemployment benefit.

These travellers with no country weren’t accepted into Austrian territories, but as the Austrian Hapsburgs captured lands where they roamed (Slovakia and Hungary), they allowed them to stay. To this day many earn a living as entertainers, fortune telling, musicians, dancers, and metal work.  Gypsy or folklore shows are very common in Budapest, and well worth seeing.  If you see a little weathered man on a street corner, playing a scarred violin, trust that he really is poor, and drop a few coins in his tin.

LANGUAGE

Considered one of hardest in world, even though they only have 100,000 words (English has 600,000)   and only 2 major verb tenses (English has 6), it has over 30 letters, with lots of accents and dipthongs, etc.

 They will never expect you to speak Hungarian, and learn 2 foreign languages before leaving school.  English is a popular one.

RESTAURANTS

Because you will be working with a different currency, (the forint or the Huf) check your bills. Even re-add them discretely.

Instead of salt and pepper, you will find paprika on the table.  There are 40 different types, and you can always ask for extra hot if you wish.

FOOD

They eat lots of meat and thick stews. Vegetarians have hard time in local’s cafes.

Salad is grated cucumber, sliced pickles, cabbage and bell peppers/capsicum.

Other dishes include lots of meat and onions, potatoes, stuffed cabbage or peppers, soups, desserts, filo pastry, stuffed pancakes and sour cream.

We’ve all heard of goulash and think of a stew, but it originated as a shepherds soup.  In the old days, men  travelled with cubes of dried meat, which they would cook in boiling water with vegetables.  It is more of a clear spicy broth with chunks of meat, veg and pot.  Served with slabs of white bread, this is one of my favourite lunches.

Desserts are filo pastries filled with sour cherry or apple, donuts and pancakes with cream and chocolate.

DRINKS

Unicum is the speciality herbal liquor. It translates to ‘much loved’ and tastes like a bitter Jagermeister. Created in 1790 by Doctor Zwack  (the court physician of Hapburg’ss Joseph 2nd), it is made from 40 herbs in oak cask and a highly secret formula.

When the communists occupied Hungary, the Zwacks fled to USA and took recipe with them. The communists tried to recreate it, but it was terrible. In 1991, Peter Zwack sued the government for copyright infringement and won.  Now it is back with a vengeance.

Look for the round bottle with the red cross on the label.  There is a Unicum Next, which has a more citrus flavour for ladies and western palate.

To toast, raise your glasses and say: eh-gehs-sheh-geh-dreh (which means to your health).  Eggs for short.