Friday, May 29, 2009

Meat Pastries and other culinary adventures

Our hostel in Budapest, Big Fish hostel, was an awesome change from happy days. Getting there was nerve wracking- the airport shuttle dropped us off in what looked like an abandoned alleyway, pointed at a doorway, and drove away. We rang the bell and the door just clicked open, so we went up with trepadation. But the hostel itself was beautiful, the people are very nice, and it was, importantly, actually a comfortable and quiet place to sleep! In the morning, our street wasn’t scary but was actually pretty close to everything we wanted to do. Breakfast was dubious- we woke up a bit late and finally found some pastries and coffee. Everything was in Hungarian (which is terrifyingly confusing with its accents and its long words) so we just kind of pointed at what looks good. I’ve been pleased to discover that I have a good eye for yummy pastry (mine was flaky and soft, with a mascarpone type cheese in the middle), and that coffee is a universal word. We all know how I get without my coffee. I don’t want the world to see that. Leslie, however, might not have the greatest eye for breakfast food. After a nice sip of her chocolate milk, she bit into her pastry and declared , rather shocked, “this is meat!” It had looked like chocolate from behind the glass and was right next to the sweet pastries… oh well, live and learn. According to leslie it was still good, just a bit strange with chocolate milk.
We jumped up on our tired feet and headed out to the market. It was a cool place, with music, fruit and vegetables, meat, and handicrafts. We wandered around and looked at everything for a bit, and I lusted after but did not buy the beautiful embroidered table runners. After, we went to the national museum. Of course, after working in the museum field for a bit, I compare every history museum to the one I work at. This one stood up to my measurement. I love galleries that have period clothing on display, and this one had lots of different interesting outfits from the middle ages on. The waistlines on those medieval dresses- yowza. These women had 17 inches tops around their waists. I’m imagining the tight corsets necessary to make your ribs bend like that and it hurts to think of it.
After, we wandered over to the city park where we met up with my friend Balazs, who is Hungarian but goes to WashU. He gave us a quick but thorough history overview and showed us around the park, took us to the parliament, and showed us the American embassy. After we assigned Balazs to pick a lunch location, and it took him half an hour to decide, we had lunch at a restaurant on the river bank, overlooking the spectacular parliament building on the other bank.Everyone at our table ordered goulash, which turned out to be wonderfully good and filling. Then, Balazs headed out and we walked back to our hostel, about an hours walk but a good way to see the city. We spent some time resting in our hostel and then went to dinner at Menza for traditional Hungarian food and wine. We all ordered the same traditional Hungarian dish, a kind of bread wrapped around spiced chicken. Since we all ordered the same thing, I just ordered three of it and the bottle of wine. Since I ordered, she brought the bottle to me for the fancy label/cork/tasting approval thing, which was super fun  I felt very adult thoughtfully tasting the wine and then nodding for it to be poured. We hung out until the restaurant closed, drinking and having a thoroughly good night. Finally, at about one am, we went back to big fish to get a good night’s sleep.

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