Paprika, Pork and Palinka
These are the three signs that have been basically everywhere since we arrived in Szeged and seem to be traditional of Hungary. Paprika is the obvious one known to many of you as a spice but here, well, in Hungary they take spice to a whole new level. I spent the day with several young Hungarians the other day and they informed me that the only two spices that are really used in Hungary are paprika and pepper. my mouth agrees. he paprika ranges from sweet to spicy to mind-blowing hot. As the festival they offered you big spoonfuls of freshly ground paprika as a sample. Being brave I went for the best and enjoying every burning bit. I will definitely be bringing some of each kind home to share, becuase it is too good to pass up.
As for pork, I don't think i have ever eaten so much meat in my life. There are pork sausage, pork and potatoes, pork goulash, pork sandwiches, fried pork, glazed pork. pork dumplings. You name it and they probably have it. I have treid most of the above options, and they are exquisite in their own speical way. But some have tired of the piggy options and have more on to what some may consider better and much more refined options. One gentleman on the trip ordered what he thought were sauteed potatoes the other evening only to be informed of something quite different. Apparently rooster testacles are a delicacy in Hungary and quite well liked. I was told they tasted like kidney beans with a bit of extra protein. Not quite what I prefer. Also brains are loved here, but nobody has braved that yet. I am trying to work up the courage and just might make it. just need to get hungry enough, which could be hard here.
Oh the joy of Palinka. After a brief curiousity driven discussion with a few friends I discovered palinka is a Hungarian favorite similar to gin, brandy, vodka, and whiskey. Odd i know, but you have to try it to understand. For the sake of cultural understanding I was convinced to try it. It only took half a shot for me to understand. THey shuld rename it liquid fire. It burned all the way down and for minutes afterwards. I even tried a pear flavor which I was hoping would help, but it did not. With watery eyes and a raw throat when ask if I love it i told them it was definitely something new. Needless to say I did not have any more. I've never been a fan of fire inside my body. But congratulations to the Hungarians for making it lok easy.
All that aside, we left Hungary today to take the train back to Budapest. Tomorrow is another early morning to jump on a bus to Krakow, Poland. THe next few day will be spent there with a trip to Auschwitz on Thursday. I am picking up more and more Hungarian, bu still feel quite incapable of communication. But a smile and a nod seem to suffice until they realize I do not understand. Silly anti-multi-lingual me. But as it is nearing bedtime here, I am going to depart. Catch you in Poland!