Wednesday, February 15, 2012

“Goulash” and “No, We Aren’t From Dallas” (from Aaron)

According to Adam, our interpreter and everyday contact for this process, after the fall of Communism in the late 90’s, the TV show “Dallas” was one of the first shows that their new free world starting getting on their televisions.  J.R. Ewing, Sue Ellen, Bobby and Pam and Jock Ewing are legendary in the minds of Hungarians especially for people aged 30 to 50 now.  So of course when you tell a Hungarian that you are from Texas they right away say “zyou from Dall-as”?  And then references to certain plot lines involving J.R. start coming out.  By the way, I have had this same conversation with a cab driver in Paris and a person in Beijing last year.   It hasn’t been above freezing since we arrived, the lows are about 10 degrees F and then gets up to around 25 to 28 during the day.  They think that we are going to freeze up and shatter walking between the hotel and the car, even though we have explained that Amarillo can have just as cold weather.

It’s hard to find anybody who knows English here, and we are in the city center of the 3rd largest city in Hungary – Miskolc (Mish-kolch).  Best luck of finding someone who knows a little English is in a restaurant.  But the grocery store or stores in a mall or stores in downtown here, there is a good chance you will have no way to communicate when walking in. 
The unemployment rate is officially around 25% in Hungary, but George says that it is actually closer to 50%!  As we drive every day to and from the boys’ small village you see many people walking to the market or riding their bikes, and it is the middle of the day.  They say the economy is very depressed here.  Miskolc was an industrial powerhouse during Communism, mostly metal working and metal production, but since, that production has moved to other countries.  As one guy said, “one rich man decided to move the business somewhere else.” 

By the way there are more people out and walking in downtown than I first indicated.  During the day there are many, many people walking around, but when it gets later, you may not see anybody at all.  Also, our hotel has a few more people staying here finally, but not many.  The people here are not real friendly, they aren’t rude, but if you try to say hello or thank you or give a nod to someone walking on the street, you won’t get a response.  As a general rule, the people are thin and tall and well dressed.  The men have that distinct European look - short hair, sharp features, skinny jeans, different looking frames on their eye glasses, and cardigan sweaters with a bunch of weird colors.  Many of the older ladies have the nice fur coat and a fur hat. 
Disclaimer:  Kimbo has proofed and approved the next part.

The women here are not all SI Swimsuit Models or on their way to professional modeling, and this may not be representative of the rest of the country.  This is only my general observation the last week as I walk around downtown Miskolc. 
As a general rule the women here are attractive.  They are tall, thin to medium build, and all are nattily dressed and made up to be going out, they are very fashionable.  Eastern Europe is famous for attractive women and I think I am seeing some of that.  Most are wearing calf high or knee high boots with a tall heel, that makes their feet look very small, then they have tights on, usually black or tan, or “skinny jeans,” that are tucked into the boots.  Most have a sweater or a shiny coat that covers their mid section down to mid thigh, but some don’t have this, and in these cases, their booty shows off how tight their tights or skinny jeans really are.  You do see blond and light haired women but they usually have a dark complexion.  Kimbo agrees with me, the women are pretty.  Not wearing your PJ’s and Flipflops in public probably has a lot to do with my opinion here. 

The food is good pretty much everywhere I have been.  Bread, potatoes, and cheese are all staples in the Hungarian diet and that is okay with me.  I have only had the goulash at a place called “The Calypso” that is close to the hotel and it is awesome.  Turns out traditional Hungarian goulash is basically like our beef and vegetable stew but tastes different, it has a very deep, rich flavor.  I thought it was hamburger meat and noodles but that is not the case.  Also, Hungary is famous for their spicy Paprika.  You can buy it everywhere and it is something you can put with your food everywhere, sort of like our jalapeno or crushed red pepper.  On valentines night, I ate the large bowl of goulash at the Calypso and I asked for a side of Paprika.  The waiter who was professional, a little grouchy, and who knew some English, said “ares youz shoer youz cans handle it?”  He wasn’t joking, I think he thought he was trying to help me out.  I almost said, “Are you kidding me? Have you ever seen Dallas, dude?”  I didn’t, I said yes I can handle it.  I put half the paprika serving in my bowl and it was very good.  The burn was good, it goes through all your sinuses and you can feel it in your ears, Kimbo noticed I did have multiple sweat beads all around my hair line, what’s interesting is that it doesn’t make your mouth and tongue burn but you can feel it in your nose, eyes, throat, and ears.  I hid most of the rest of the paprika in a piece of bread so that the waiter would be really impressed.  Later, I saw him looking at our table when talking to the owner and they were doing double takes and chuckling.  Yes, I am J.R. Ewing from Amarillo. 
Every morning, I am not hungry.  I just feel quesy in the morning.  While Kimbo is eating her 3 egg breakfast with ham and bacon, i usually just have coffee.  Yesterday, I decided to ask for some bacon.  The lady comes out half apologetic because she is bring just one slice of bacon.  That isn't any big deal because I am not that hungry but the problem is the slice of bacon is raw.  see picture.  after further inspection i guess it is lightly smoked?  I eat the meat parts of the bacon and I think of my buddy Zack Farr who loves to eat full plates of crispy bacon for breakfast, I can hear him complaining now. 
Pictured here also is a Schnitzel and mashed potatoes from the Calypso that was very very good

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