Market nirvana

I feel like I just died and went to heaven. After two weeks in Budapest I have found the market to end all markets. An absolute treasure trove of people and produce, timeless, like encountering Van Gough’s potato eaters at the table, or at least their Hungarian cousins. In the farmer’s stalls outside the fabulous old market building of Hunyadi Square, there are old ladies with their hair twisted up in scarves, men with gnarly hands weighing fistfuls of beans, fresh unfettered food, and people waiting patiently with baskets, sharing the crisp early morning. Everyone speaks Hungarian. There is not a tourist in sight – although they must be on their way. But for now, the place is mine.

Everyone buys flowers, and I want to look like a local so I buy flowers too. And quinces, and ricotta cakes, and blushing small pears that will be perfectly ripe by the time I find a bottle of chilled Tokaj. Then there is honey that looks candied when it’s not, eggs that you buy by handing over a box for refilling, and old women selling tight bundles of parsley that probably came out of their garden this morning. There is cobbled corn, vivid red and yellow capsicums, and long pairs of sausage that look too hot even for my insatiable tastebuds. I don’t want to speak english and try to ask, it will ruin the spell. Maybe later in the day there will be people wearing sneakers trying to take a few i-pictures from the hip, but for now it’s just me and I’m relishing it. Even the woman with the pastry twists quickly diminishing from generous plastic tubs doesn’t give me away as she follows my fingers and chooses the best one. The cheese lady laughs as her hand sweeps over half the offerings and points to a cow while the other half sweeps to a goat. There are pickles and jams, the apricot so intensely orange it will light up the morning toast. I try to pack heavy on the bottom with apples and quinces and keep the pastries on the top, but there is too much, I can hardly carry the bags, and I haven’t even bought the things we actually need. There is nothing for it but to go home, unpack, and start again.

As I retrace my steps from the market, I find myself wondering why I don’t have 10 children, or why I’m not in charge of the catering for a football team, or at minimum, carbo loading for the 50,000 runners in New York’s marathon. There are so many delicious, different and divine things to eat here, Sean is going to be hard pressed to keep up. And this is only week two. I have explored the Grand Central Market and love it despite the tourists. The markets at Belvarosi Piac are just around the corner, handy. I have yet to visit the well recommended Feny Street Markets over the river, but know this will also be a treat. There can be no slowing down of the discoveries, which means I need more eaters. So if you find yourself in Budapest and hungry, you know who to call….


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20 Responses to Market nirvana

  1. John Wills says:

    Instalment 1 sets a fabulous benchmark for the future! Melburians love the Vic Market but Budapest seems to be “a bridge too far”by comparison.
    John Wills ( can’t wait to be there!)

    • If you are planning a trip sometime soon stop eating ( and drinking ) immediately!

      • John Wills says:

        As a “see food” expert,I will need professional help in self control before I retire in April.(The main aspect of my job I will miss is the physical exertion that acts as a limited control.)
        John Wills

  2. Chrissy H says:

    Who you gonna call? Hunger Buster!!!!! Love it G!!!!

  3. Sounds good…..foodie market groupies cooking and eating gatherings…looks fabulous. It will be my first stop on my next visit.

  4. Robyn says:

    Wonderful story, enjoyed the read and look forward to following your time in Budapest.

  5. Peter says:

    Dear Gabrielle, moving to Budapest has unaltered your thirst for and joy of life. What a fabtastic market as Budapest appears to be a place to live. A great place for Crow supporters after their devasting loss! Great to see your blog. Peter.

  6. Ross Hansen says:

    Great to read your new post from Budapest! I thought these wonderful, colourful, positive descriptions of happenings in the city where you live would all be in the past when you left New York……but here you are!

  7. So happy to be able to share your wonderful descriptions of your new home town Budapest wish I was there .valerie

  8. Kelly Clark says:

    It all sounds just too delicious…how would you decide?

  9. Joy Stapleton says:

    Great to read further adventures now you are in Budapest. Your descriptive powers have not diminished with the different palette of a new country. Looking forward to more blogs.

  10. mairiona says:

    Wonderful! Look forward to the next installment. Will we still be able to hear you talking to Rod Quinn sometimes?

    • Thanks Mairiona – I have an open door with Rod when I am in North America – and/or if I have some amazing news to share. So will work on the latter and in the meanwhile enjoy every minute in this amazing city.

  11. Lyndl Marshall says:

    My dear, you look positively blissed out! Such an adventure that you and Sean have embarked upon, and a more interesting place to land does not exist. Your descriptions as you wander this exotic market are making me desperately envious.

  12. Amanda says:

    Sounds divine! Enjoy x

  13. Clarissa says:

    Keep these stories coming….just fab for someone who has never seen Budapest….πŸ‘πŸ˜

  14. Pat Grumont says:

    What a joy to read Gabrielle. Your description makes the place so inviting.
    It will certainly help to plan our visit. The locals will love you as well as you are buying.
    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to more.

  15. ck1957 says:

    This sounds fantastic Gabrielle, I love hearing your stories, so full of colour and description. We missed each other by only a few weeks. Steve and I were there at the end of July. We would h\ave loved to been able to spend more time there. You look very happy xx

  16. Pat Furniss says:

    I am so jealous!!! Sounds absolutely amazing. Lucky you.

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