Made in Budapest for Body and Soul
Right after I finished the list of cool souvenirs from Hungary I thought: why so materialistic? Screw souvenir hunting. Budapest rewards with many sweet things that will pamper your body and soul.
Here is what I enjoyed:
Budapest is Spa capital of Hungary with an ancient bath culture. The Spa capital uses its underground springs of warm water with thermal quality, ranging from 21 to 76 °C degrees. How much is that in Fahrenheit? Well, let’s just say it is about as warm as piss.
You can get some curative water treatments for about any physical complaint, the list ranges from damaged joints, all kinds of pains to degenerative diseases. Hell, it should make the blind see and the crippled walk.
However, Kneipp and minerals are not the least impressive for a girl from Poland, the catholic capital of Europe where the miraculous power of holy water is part of everyday normality.
In Budapest, the uniqueness and thrill lies in the authenticity of those monumental baths, nothing short of awe-inspiring, such as:
- the Széchenyi Bath built in the beginning of the 20th century in neo-baroque style with an incredibly beautiful outdoor pool. www.szechenyibath.com
- the Lukács Bath which flourished as early as the Ottoman times. www.lukacsbath.com
- the Rudas Bath is an original Turkish bath and its history reaches back 500 years. www.rudasbaths.com
- the Gellért Bath, which operates since the 20th century is an art nouveau beauty where you can relax after having conquered Gellért Hill nearby.
We picked the Gellért for rejuvenation. You probably noticed our splendid physique – it’s not Botox, my friends, it’s Gellért! I treated myself to a really nice bikini wax job at their beauty place, too. It’s got a bit of a communist touch to it with women being treated in the same room, lying right next to each other without a paravan. Makes for a good chat.
The halls are historical and it feels like entering majestic chambers of a palace.
Paprika is the symbol of Hungary’s cuisine. You can get peppers in all colours and shapes. The light red-orange one will probably make you cry.
I tried those two popular paprika paste versions:
Édes Anna – the most common and really just salty, with over 11% salt per glass. When I say salty, I mean that taking an accidental sip of the dead sea in Jordan was cookies.
Erős Pista – the hottest and our favourite. Apart from being salty it is veeery spicy, so that you don’t taste the salt that much.
The paprika pastes are great to spice up sauces, soups, sandwiches, main meals, dips – it pairs well with anything. We consumed about three glasses during our monthly stay. That’s plenty of spice in our life.
This brand has dominated the market and supermarket shelves.
Budapest is such a cool city to just stroll around aimlessly and see where it takes you. Chances are that you will land at a market. One sunny day, we came across a big market promoting traditional Hungarian food and customs, I would like to show you.
Location: City Park (Városliget). I am not sure how often it actually operates.
There was a lot of Hungarian wine and beer for tasting, so here are my tipsy pictures of the things that caught my reduced attention.
It felt a bit like meeting the exhibition of the Ethnographic Museum. Except that I recognised one of the knights who had a hearty go at the wine counter and was now riding a horse (all incidents are products of the author’s imagination).
I spotted more horse on a parsley-nut cake, a lot of meat stands and mainly oversized people in front of them (obese characters were purely coincidental and were cut out of the pictures so as to remove their fictional identity). No more Hungarian wine, please.
Mannequins and troubadour from the Ethnographic Museum were walking around and looking very real.
Folk dress and old musical instruments were coming to life.
I saw monstrous pretzels which probably weren’t real. No way.
The strudel is a traditional Hungarian sweet. I am sure I saw some familiar looking apple and cherry strudel but then my vision must have doubled, tripled, quadrupled…
Budapest shows off excessive amounts of bakeries and pastry shops. You can get all kinds of doughy stuff on almost any street and any place.
Fornetti is a Hungarian pastry chain that satisfies all ages and tastes in Hungary, selling bread, puff pastries, sweet and salty rolls. But as with fast food chains, the independent pastry shops are selling better fare (personal opinion).
In Budapest, there will be a bread section, like this one, even in the tiniest supermarket. You can touch the bread through thin see-through plastic bags and pack what you like. The cashier will know how to differentiate all types of pastry and bread, even if your selection is all mixed up in one bag. Do the cashier-Pékáru-test yourself. It’s amazing.
The size of the buns correlate to taste. My favourite was the poppy seed roll, which makes for a great poppy-seed-between-teeth smile.
Dasza’s and Tomek’s sample Pékáru breakfast assortment. I am proud to say that we bought fresh bread everyday before preparing breakfast and I will make the morning routine a traveler tradition (one day, when we live in a house with a bakery downstairs).
TRADITIONAL HUNGARIAN PASTRY
You will come across many stands of this special Hungarian pastry and attentively watch the fascinating makings of kürtös kalács. A hollow, cylinder-shaped pastry with different coatings, that is best-selling sugar, nuts or cinnamon.
The rule is to get it fresh but not from the underground metro stand, which wasn’t a winner.
Instead look for something like this and you will not regret it. The production is an overly complicated matter and takes a team of skilled Hungarian bakers to fabricate. Traditionally kürtös kalács is helix shaped, baked, then rolled and in the end topped and sprinkled, a complex process I don’t need to worry about. Just try the walnut version and leave the messy bits to the chefs ! Yum!
TOTALLY CHEESY STUFF
Budapest has some interesting milk products.
There is braided cheese, that you un-braid as you eat. Super fun.
And rolled cheese that you un-roll to eat. More super fun with food. Connoisseurs say, the taste is full, pleasantly salty, with a light flavour of nuts.
Historic product. Milk comes in plastic bags. Granny buys milk like that in Poland! Then she cooks it, improving the concept of pasteurization and stores it in a pot with a hooked metal spoon in the fridge. By the time the milk has cooled down, a nice layer of skin has build up, which great-grandma used to dip into sugar to treat herself.
Now, imagine what I will do to my grandchildren – it’s the same family! Anyway, I think the best fermented milk drink (kefir) I had, was in Budapest and I sure did spoil my digestive system here.
Pampered body and soul – it’s time to work on the mind again in coming posts.