So I have learned a lot in my travels in Budapest, despite only being here a few days and not actually going out beyond just getting to the store and exchanging money. But I’m at a pretty nice hotel that is showing me the ins and outs of this place.
And by ins and outs… of course I mean, the food. And how slow it is to get into your body and how fast it is getting out.
Yeah, get ready. This one ain’t pretty.
First and foremost, I’ve learned exactly why girls here are on the
emaciated skinny side — and why the country is named what it is named. You see, the *legend starts thousands of years ago when Mr. Budapest’s boat capsized on the Danube River and he just decided to camp out in the area of the town that now bares his name. Mr. Budapest was from Germania and was considered one of the most righteous individuals of the time. He led a life of excess: wine, women and song. But with the boat capsizing, most of his crew were washed away, along with much of his supplies and food rations. It was a tough recovery and those members of the crew (all men) that did survive mainly perished because of starvation. Mr. Budapest, through his lust for food, survived solely on energy stored in his body fat and water pulled from the Danube.
Amazingly, Mr. Budapest fasted for nearly two years before the true settlers of Budapest arrived. As they ventured onto the new land, they were astonished to see a sole living person. When asked who the gentlemen was, he responded with “I’m Budapest, this is my land.” And thus, a country was born in the 9th Century. Ancient scrolls suggest the Budapest lived for the next 15 years only on water and bread, and died at the age of 37 at 50 kg which was an astronomical drop from his weight upon arrival — some predictions say up to 5x as much (well over 500 lb.)
Upon Mr. Budapest’s inevitable demise, a Celtic group renamed the area Aquincum — which later became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia (for all of you history buffs out there). By the way, what’s it like never getting laid? Tough choice at university there my friend. Well anyway, the Mongols raped and pillaged the the town in 1241-42 and basically burnt it to the ground. Long story short, a tome was recovered about the life of Mr. Budapest, and after about 150 years under Ottoman Empire rule, the country was returned back to its founder, posthumously. It was renamed again Budapest… and has stuck ever since.
So there’s your history lesson. But what does it all mean? Well since Budapest lived primarily on water, and without his usual flock of women, nobody was available to cook for him. And the cuisine took a turn for the drab and just plain awful. Dubbed as the element of life, water became a pertinent ingredient in all of the food of the country.
[* — actually this whole thing is completely made up by the author. There just isn’t a viable enough reason for the food to suck as bad as it does here… so I made up my own.]
And the country still today inherits this belief. You need to add Evian water to everything in order to tone down the putrid flavors. The juices need water otherwise you are just drinking pulp… and as much as I love strawberries, strawberry pulp is fucking nasty.
Flavor is so bad that you need to add water to water for it to actually taste like something that resembles water. Regular water tastes like lead. And sparkling water (club soda) sucks even worse than club soda sucks when my sister occupies her refrigerator with it, and nothing else, when I visit.
Now I went to breakfast this morning — a buffet mind you — featuring the “best” cuisine in the area. And judging by the line out of the door of my hotel’s restaurant, I assumed there is something to this moniker. After charging 15 euros to my room (the most expensive purchase I have made — food wise — to this point), I matriculated down to the Araz Restaurant. Sounds fancy. Sounds regal. Sounds Arab to me. So it has to be good, right? Arabs have mad money — so they can eat like caviar for breakfast and shit.
The spread sounded amazing so I wait 35 minutes for a table. And up I go for the first round: the all fruit round, to lube up the insides for the sausage, bacon, pancakes, waffles, etc. goodness. My belief is to load up on breakfast so that you can skip lunch altogether, if possible.
I probably should have suspected something when the fresh fruit didn’t taste like American fresh fruit. The names were familiar but the flavors and textures were foreign. Kind of like they weren’t fresh and weren’t fruit. I had a plate full of fruit and it took me 10 minutes just to finish it. Even the banana was nasty — it was like an orange hue too, with brown spots. Looked like a banana that had skin cancer.
I was debating about mailing it in and just going after the good stuff — but I stuck with it. After all, it’s fruit — its healthy. Even if it is soggy and mushy.
Then I go up for round two: the steak, sausage and eggs portion of the meal. Which, of course, in Hungary means the snout, hot dogs and eggish (egg-like? faux egg? raptor?) stuff scrambled in the snout and hot dogs. I just thought to myself “well maybe it is a different looking presentation, try it, you like steak, sausage and eggs.”
I took one bite of the eggs and full-on bile-up-the-back-of-my-throat vomited in my mouth. Hindsight being 20/20 — it was a fucking horrible decision. Honestly, how the fuck do you mess up eggs? They are little tiny aborted chicken fetuses. You add some milk, pepper, pinch of salt, some vegetables for added flavor(green onions, tomatoes), cheese and heat. Boom, done. Devour.
These eggs, for the two seconds they were on my tongue before spitting them out and promptly vomiting, tasted like somebody put sheet rock in brie and thought it’d be a good idea. Fucking putrid.
Then I tried the hot dog looking sausage thing. Much to my chagrin, the sausage tasted like a hot dog. And an uncooked one to boot. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… I asked a man sitting near me — is this how it is supposed to taste? “Yes, very good, huh?”
In the United States I would say I just ate salmonella. I couldn’t spit it out because I needed to get the bile out of my throat — so even though it goes down as the grossest thing I’ve ever eaten, it tasted better than vomit. Suddenly, the snout looking thing (which I was later told IS snout) just didn’t look like it was going to get did. And after cutting it for 3 minutes and still barely severing the two nostrils, I assumed it’d best be left alone. So I continued with my cold Oscar Meyer reject weiner. Yummmmmmm. Barf.
After that I just went up for round three and looked for anything that even resembled what it was supposed to be. Then I saw pickled herring and kipper. For breakfast. That’s disgusting. Then I smelled it. And dead fish is the worst smell ever. Yeah, vomit cough again. You know that game from when you are kids — or when you are just routinely drunk — where if somebody farts you have to put your thumb on your forehead and the last one to realize “eats” it. Well if that was in the spirit of eye for an eye tooth for a tooth, I ate it. Because that smell hit me right on the jaw and stayed in my olfactory system for awhile. It burned the nostrils. I thought I was in the clear after that when I saw pancakes that looked like pancakes, syrup that looked like syrup and then salad ingredients. For breakfast? Eh, at this point — that’s the safest.
So I pick up the pancakes, cake them in syrup and go to town. Finally something that I can eat… nom, nom, nom, nom… num… nur… urgh… tastes… like… paste… doused in cigarettes.
I then proceeded to eat salad for breakfast. But the damage had been done. The atomic shit clock hit me soon after. I went up to my room and blasted everything out. Literally within 15 minutes. And I wasn’t feeling good either… when you have eaten just disgusting stuff, it just happens — vomit shitty. I was multi-tasking… vomiting in the trashcan and shitting out my guts on the toilet. Two chicks, same time.
I’m feeling better but fucking hell Hungary, nothing here that is Hungarian is any good. Half of it has no taste and is totally bland, the other half is vomit-worthy.
I never thought in a million years I’d find a country that cooked worse than the Brits, but I’ve found it. The girls here are all so thin because nobody eats. Why would they? I bet even McDonald’s here tastes like shit.