As a country that is home to a greater number of Catholics than live in Ireland and where crafted mangers and festive exchanges add more sparkle than all the chachkies from China, Hungary celebrates Christmas in a very special way. The lights have been up for weeks, temperatures are falling in anticipation of festive snow, and since early November the sweet spicy aroma of mulled wine has been drifting irresistibly across the city from Vörösmarty Square. If I didn’t already have a nose for all things delicious and heart warming, the smell and the season could only mean one thing – Christmas markets!
Those of us who couldn’t possibly visit Adelaide without swinging by the Central markets, or contemplate the Big Apple without tasting the same in Union Square, will be marking this as a new favourite on the calendar. Everything is handmade. There are decorations strung from dried oranges, bay leaves and red chillis, tiny bundles of advent-scented packages ready to hang, little lambs spun from wool, gingerbread cookies laced with edible embroidery ( and served by a moustachioed hat lover ) and angels moulded from brass and silver. Then there are blacksmiths forging red hot artworks as you watch, shearling coats with the farmer and his furrier son standing by, and hats of every shape and colour. And yes, there is food…!
Fighting a genetic impulse to eat sweets first, coupled with the reassurance that we can always go back tomorrow, Sean and I shared a giant crispy potato latke layered with roasted pork and leek. Actually that was day two, day one was with chicken and paprika peppers. Even without the temperature hovering at six degrees, the heartiness of this new winter staple was addictively crunching towards day three. The grilled sausages and goulash-in-a-bread-bowl would just have to wait. Not so the Kürtoskalács. Hand-rolled, twirled around a well worn skewer, dusted with cinnamon sugar and then roasted over coals, this Hungarian classic is dangerously delicious. The pastry spirals off in curls of sweetness, the peeling giving as much pleasure as the tasting. And the smell! There is no bah humbug in Hungary, only dreams of Christmas present. And with even more markets assembling in front of St Stephen’s Basilica, the aromas and atmosphere will be luring true believers to generous temptation for weeks to come…
Fabulous Fitzy makes me hungry for Hungary! 5 months to ago and the “Bucket List” ticking begins from Malta HQ. Your prose and photographs are fantastic again!
Fabulous report Christmas in Budapest sounds fantastic with new experiences, thanks for sharing fabulous report and pics.
Thank you, thank you…what a marvellous report. Budapest here we come !
How wonderful! I was in Budapest in 1966 so I think it’s time for another visit. Thanks for taking the time to share all your fabulous experiences.
Budafest at its Budabest!
Always a delight to read your report. My mouth is watering and feel like I can smell it all. Wish I was there. Keep warm!
Wonderful photos and I could almost smell all those beautiful aromas. I think it will have to be a northern hemisphere 2018 Christmas.
I think I’ve put on 3kg since reading your report G! xx How’s the project going?
Good to hear Chrissy – and you can imagine how easy it is to indulge as the temperature goes down. Need a walk to the beach to check out the tide! ( Thanks for sending enviable pics X ). We’re building on the film everyday, meeting with production people and organising crew, conversations with producers, revisiting locations and drawing up schedules. It’s all a wonderful experience – and challenge – but each week we get closer. And we have Budapest to enjoy while we do it!
I am from Kinglake Victoria, the temperature is increasing fast here, the pics are very pretty and the the food is yummy. Thanks, we are all very jealous
Thanks again for your beautiful words. Keep warm
Wonderfully described experiences, I’m very much looking forward to a white Christmas in Germany, warm vino & chestnuts. Hope you have a wonderful Festive Season your reports are a joy to read.
Yum, yum and yum! Thanks for the experience. Love hearing about your journey, makes me want to visit 😊
You are welcome anytime!
If gluten hadn’t recently forsaken me I would be face first into a pile of those winding, pastries of my dreams! How wonderful is a handmade christmas! We need to get away from the rampant consumerism and commercialism. Keep it simple, keep it personal and christmas can be wonderful and wondrous again.
Well, Gabrielle, you know I miss you and am beguiled by the reports from abroad. I sent this particular one to my dear Dr Lax, whose parents came from Hungary. Are you and Sean getting fat? Great Glory – just READING about your culinary adventures puts pounds on. Wonderful about the progress on the movie. Merry Christmas and a marvelous 2018. xoxo
Thank you Lyndl. And thank you for your Christmas news – yes, the clothes still fit but for how much longer…?!? The latest is deliciously edible Christmas decorations ( smoked mozzarella stars ) and of course it is a tradition to have duck on Christmas Eve…. Luckily we are walking everywhere and can’t get enough of Budapest. It is richer and more welcoming than I ever could have imagined. Much love to you and here’s to all good things in 2018. X