Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I am not too frigid.

"Nem túl hideg vadgok." That is what I said last night at a party to a room full of Hungarians: "I am not too frigid."

And I'm not. But I was trying to say, of course, that I wasn't too cold. This is just the latest installment in my long engagement with international buffoonery. Sadly, I've grown so accustomed to humiliating myself that I now only feel the slightest pulse of embarrassment. These days I just sort of stand-by with a wry smile absorbing the laughter, jeers, and finger-pointing (ok-- there has rarely been actual finger-pointing, but it was implied), while I catalog my most recent faux pas for future telling. I've found that accounts of my humiliation are very amusing for others. So-- have at it, have a good laugh on me.

Said party was at Old Amsterdam, a bar a touch south of Kalvin Ter, where some friends had the place for the night for their second annual "Zsír Zsúr." Zsír Zsúr translates as "Fat Party" or "Lard Party." I was very pleased to be invited to such a party, with its titular promise of decadence. And you know what I always say:

fat = flavor

But still, I have to admit that I was slightly repulsed by the slabs o' mangalica szalonna. The mangalica is a Hungarian wild pig, and the szalonna is its fat. Slabs of pig fat. No meat interspersed with the fat to confuse things. So, I literally took a stab at it. It was smoky and flavorful and disgusting, but in a good Hungarian celebratory way.

It's tough-going for the vegetarian or vegetarian-inclined here in Hungary, if you want to eat traditional Hungarian food. Last night's non-meat offerings basically consisted of beets and gherkins.

I also ate cow's intestine, but I didn't know it was cow's intestine, because it was pretty dark inside. I recognized the taste and the texture, though, after I put it in my mouth. I'm pretty well-acquainted with offal, having spent a fair amount of time in Rome, where it's part of their regional cuisine. Originally, dishes like trippa all romana came about because meat was scarce, and people wanted to make use of all the edible parts of the cow. Perhaps this is the origin of the Hungarian dish as well.

I am intrepid in gustatory matters, and this is resolutely a point of pride with me. Food is intricately intertwined with culture, and if I want to experience the latter, then I need to experience the former. That said, I was happy to return to my regular Budapesti diet of fruits, smoked cheeses, and refined carbs.

Last night I also got to chat with one of my favorite Hungarians, Mező. I think he is my favorite friend of Zsolti and Anita's. You know when you just have a good feeling about someone? I think my fondness for Mező has to do with my revelation in my mid-20's that "nice is hot." What do you think? Aren't nice people extremely attractive? I don't mean an officious sort of niceness, but a real niceness. I guess that's pretty vague. But nice is hot. I've long thought beauty/fashion magazines should do articles on niceness. It's amazing what a warm smile or a kind word can do for your complexion. Is this meditation on niceness too cloying? I'm not proselytizing-- I'm just describing a phenomenon that I experience.

I have the perfect antidote for my mawkish sentiments! I will teach you how to ask for weed in Hungarian. Here ya go:

Kérek szépen fűt, legyen szíves. ("I would kindly like some grass, please") (Best to be polite as possible in this situation.)

Have fun, kids.


At 6:42 PM, Blogger Kikee Love said...

nice IS hot


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