B.U.É.K.! That Great Hungarian Abbreviation!

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One day my first year in Budapest I was giving my third graders a lesson on abbreviations. Kids like abbreviations. When given a choice, they will always choose to abbreviate a word rather than write it all out. For children, it’s way more fun to write Jan. than January and U.S.A. than the United States of America. After making a list of abbreviations on the white board, I asked my students to tell me their favorites. Kids have favorite foods, sports, and subjects in school. Why not have a favorite abbreviation? Continue reading

Korhelyleves – Hungarian Drunkard’s Soup!

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Happy New Year from Hungary! Last night, Budapestis rang in 2014 all over the city. I went down to the river to watch the fireworks show. It was packed. I should have brought my umbrella with me. So many people were spraying each other with bottles of Törley (Hungarian bubbly) that it seemed like it was raining champagne. Hungarians surely know how to celebrate. And yesterday I was Hungarian. When I finally waddled home I had quite the headache. It’s a good thing that the Magyars have something special for a Hungarian Hangover. It’s called Korhelyleves or Drunkard’s Soup. Nope, it’s not made of strong black coffee. It contains sauerkraut, sausage, and sour cream. Today, I made myself a giant pot. I needed it. I’ve included the recipe in case you need it, too. Happy New Year! Or as they say in Hungary - Boldog Új Évet Kívánok! Continue reading

Beigli! Mmmm!

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Swirls. I’m a big fan of them. I like the swirl of park benches and chimney smoke. I’m fond of swirly signatures, too. When I doodle, I make swirlies. But my favorite swirl of all is a Hungarian one. And the best part is that you can eat it. This delectable swirl can be found in the center of the most famous Hungarian Christmas pastry called beigli. Beigli commonly comes in two types: poppy seed and walnut. Most Hungarians couldn’t imagine Christmas without it. Continue reading

Forralt Bor: Mmmmmm!

photo by Lennart Guillet

I thought I knew how to do Christmas: decorate some cookies, write a few cards, sing along with Bing Crosby, hold back tears when nearly all of Bedford Falls packs into Jimmy Stewart’s house at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. That is until I moved to Hungary. Hungarians take Christmastime to an entirely new level. And they have a couple of wintertime pleasures that just might keep me in Hungary forever.

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Hurray! My First YouTube Video about Budapest!

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I’m so excited! Today, I just launched my first YouTube video about Budapest. If you knew how non-technical I am, you’d know that this is quite the accomplishment. A giant shout out to my friend Paul Corfield for putting it all together. You can watch the movie of my Hungarian home here at: An American in Budapest. You’re welcome to share it with your friends, too. Thanks for your support. Enjoy! Continue reading

Send Szaloncukor!#@!

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“What’s this? I asked as I sat down in the staff room my first December in Budapest. In the center of the table rested a bowl of candies twisted in shiny red, blue, green, and gold paper. “Szaloncukor,” my Hungarian friend Monika replied.  She picked up a piece and explained that szaloncukor are goo-filled chocolate covered sweets wrapped in colorful foil. Their centers come in a variety of flavors. “It would be hard to find a Christmas tree in Hungary without them,” another Hungarian friend piped in. “If you want to know how important szaloncukor is to Hungarians,” Monika added, “just imagine your Halloween without any candy.” Continue reading

Somlói Galuska: Hungary’s Favorite Dessert!

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I have been to a local buffet here in Budapest three times, and each time I visited the dessert table, I had the same experience. They were out of Somlói Galuska! This decadent dessert with a jelly roll base is drenched in rum, covered with custard, swimming in chocolate, topped with apricot jam, sprinkled with cocoa, and capped with mountains of whipped cream. The first time I tried Somlói Galuska, my taste buds went into cardiac arrest.  Continue reading

Beautifying Budapest: One Surface at a Time!

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Recently, I asked my third graders what they would do if they were in charge of the world. One said he’d make homework illegal. A second stated that he’d make soccer a subject in school. Another proclaimed he’d cancel bedtime. If I were in charge of the world, I know exacty what I would do. I’d get rid of all spray paint. Sadly, Budapest, like many big cities, has a tagging problem. Some people seem to be able to ignore it, but I can’t. Why anyone would want to do this is beyond me. Fortuntately, the problem is better than it used to be thanks to an organization that is committed to beautifying Budapest. Continue reading

Hunting in Hungary: The Lions of Budapest

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Growing up in California, I went to Disneyland just about every year. I loved riding through the canon ball attack in Pirates of the Caribbean, singing along with the toucans in The Tiki Room, and sitting with a ghost in my car at the end of the Haunted House ride. One of my favorite things to do in the park was to hunt for Hidden Mickeys. These are images of Mickey Mouse that Disney imagineers concealed in attractions, buildings, gates – anywhere. In Budapest, there’s an animal that hides all around the city, too. It’s not a mouse, but a lion. Continue reading

Rakott Krumpli: Hungarian Comfort Food!

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It’s chilly in Budapest now, time for wearing layers. But it’s time for eating layers, too. Layered dishes are extremely popular in Hungary, and my absolute favorite is Rakott Krumpli (layered potatoes). Made with potatoes, sausage, bacon, and gobs of sour cream, it’s quintessential Hungarian comfort food. My first year in Budapest, Elizabeth, my cleaning lady, would bake a big casserole dish full of it for me every week and leave it in the oven. One day, I had to ask her to stop. My pants wouldn’t fit. Continue reading