Saturday, October 28, 2006


A terribly funny country much loved by English-speaking schoolchildren everywhere.
"My wife's gone to Eastern Europe."
"Yeah, let's get some shit from McDonalds."

I have been to Hungary, specifically Budapest, twice, and a charming place it is. Besides being invaded over the years by Romans, Turks, Germans and latterly, Tescos, it is also home to some of the world's most beautiful modelesque women and fat, shaven-headed men. This should make it a place for well-groomed Western men such as I to Clean Up in the sexual sense but alas, I am too dull even for the women here.

Goulash. Note the resemblance to dog food. This resemblance extends beyond mere looks.

When I went back in 2003, it was my first visit to Eastern Europe. I had expected bad food, miserable people, and snowstorms. I was surprised to discover that it was actually extremely hot, probably because we went mid-summer. In fact, it was stifling, and as such there was no snow. However, the food was actually atrocious and the people really were miserable. So too was my Grandmother, a Hungarian by birth who fled to London as a baby (ok, she would have been carried by a flee-er, one of my great-Grandparents rather keen to avoid the angry mob of Jew-baiters with sticks.) I spent a great deal of time in Hungary (or several brief conversations in bars) tracking down the whereabouts of my grandmaternal home, a town called Nagyvarad, pronounced Noj-varoj, to no avail. It wasn't until I returned home that I discovered that Nagyvarad is now called Oradea and is in Romania - which made me think of that Eddie Izzard skit where he said maps of Europe should feature elastic bands for borders so that you can move them when treaties, wars and occasional riots necessitate it.

So Bubba was Hungarian because she was born in Nagyvarad in 1906 (We think - they didn't bother with birth certificates back then.) After the Ottoman invasion of Hungary in the 1500s, the city bounced on to the Principality of Transylvania to the Ottoman Empire and on again to the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1918, Oradea and the rest of Transylvania was given to Romania. During WWII but perhaps not because of it (I can't be bothered to check), this northern part of Transylvania was awarded back to Hungary. By 1945 it went back to being Romanian and I have a headache.

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany: A LIAR!

This, to me at any rate, is fairly interesting. And I can't help thinking of the human angle; the constant switch of currency, the change of laws, the language changing overnight, the fact that in a generation, children wouldn't be able to understand their parents. And all without anyone leaving their homes.

This sounds far-fetched as you'd think that European languages would share some similarities with its direct neighbours, but Hungarian is totally dissimilar to the languages surrounding them. I recall that it is more related to Finnish for some reason, with Finland being some 900 miles away with seven or so countries and languages sandwiched in between. But don't ask me why. This is just a blog after all.

But I love Hungary even if - ahaha - I go hungry because the food's so bad. As are their politicians for lying to voters. Not that that's uniquely Hungarian.

Pros: The astonishing women. The history. Cheap fags.
Cons: Goulash. Paprika. Forcing grandma out. Or maybe that's a pro.


RaiseYourEyebrows said...

My first visit to Eastern Europe was to Hunagry and Budapest four years ago. Right about the beautiful women,the weather and the food - but great cake and beer. Since then I've been to Poland and Russia to discover my Bubba and Zayde. To Krakow and to Moscow. I raised my glass of flavoured vodka to them both and ate gefiltre fish in Krakow. I felt at home in Eastern Europe.

fwengebola said...

Damn, I never tried the cake! Hungary was certainly beautiful and I wanted to visit Russia and my (since discovered) ancestral paternal home of Warsaw, or at least near it. Perhaps one day...

luna said...

Poppyseed cake is legal over there, and the reason the women are so plump!

I disagree with your comments on food though,I ate delicious fruit soup and
beans soup and crumbed pork chops, not to mention chewy salami!
Have you ever been to the Gay Hussar in London?

Many Hungarians still consider Transsylvania a robbed province and agitate for restitution.

Isn't Nagyvarad close to Dracula's country?

fwengebola said...

I didn't know about the Transylvania thing. That's quite interesting. And Nagyvarad is now Oradea so yeah, it's Dracula country, where my Romanian Great-Grandad came from.
Is the Gay Hussar a Hungarian pub? Greek Street, is it not??

luna said...

Yeah,it's one of two hungarian restaurants in London, the other's in East Finchley,but you can buy salami in Waitrose.

Imagine all the unsavory pun for a food critic,"was seduced and quite taken by the gay hussar,swallowed everything put in front of me and licked my lips haha,a feast for the senses", etc.

On second thoughts,you might not want to eat there,I read it used to be the Blairs plotting den before the elections,and they still turn up occasionally.Did he meet Ferenc there I wonder ?