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Today is the National Holiday of Hungary. It’s called King’s Day or something, and it’s the name day of Steven as well. Name days are like birthdays except it’s based around the name you have. If you aren’t given one of the official names, you don’t get a day, so it that respect you better have had good parents or you could being having only half as many parties per year as the other kids. Today is Steven’s day because Saint Steven is (was) the first King of Hungary in year 1000. The Saint part came later, I think.

So, with Hungary coming into existence as a country in 1000, that makes this and next year very significant years for the Hungarians, and I’ll tell you about the celebrations they held in a little while.

Breakfast today was fruit salad, prepared the night before by Miklos. Marie-Eve offered me some peanut butter her parents had brought her from Canada before she went completely native and came to love Paprika above all, so I had a nice piece of bread with PB as well.

I worked a bit on my computer both in the main room with Miklos and Marie-Eve, and in my room. M.E. was translating a new Pressflex feature into French, and it was great having Miklos and I there to answer her questions. We were able to discuss among ourselves what the proper translation as well as what the exact functionality we were looking for was. At lunch I took a break and read the Budapest Sun, an English language publication written for, well, I haven’t exactly figured out who the audience was supposed to be.

Lunch was darias, a sort of gnocchi-like dumpling filled with an unbearably sweet jam, and covered in breadcrumbs. You’re supposed to sprinkle sugar on top, I guess to take the edge off the breadcrumbs, which are not even in the same league of sweetness as the rest of the dumpling. If I were in the mood for one of those DipStick Flavored Sugar candy treats, this would have been a good substitute. However, I was not, and once the “hey, isn’t this an interesting piece of food I have in my mouth” fun wore off, I passed on a second plateful. Luckily, I had some Swiss salami in my bag, and I had a quick sandwich to fill me up.

A little more fun on the computer, where I sent ICQ messages to Miklos despite the fact he was only two rooms away, and then it was time to pack for a visit to Miklos’ parents. They call him Mikl. I somehow misunderstood almost everything about this excursion, mostly because the plan changed several times in the 24 hours since I had arrived. We were going to the mountains, then instead to Lake Balaton. But what it turned out was, we were going to take the tram over to the house of his parents, just 40 minutes away, and stay the weekend there, during which Miklos could help his parents, and I could help Miklos, paint the fence. It all sounds rather Tom Sawyer-ish to me. However, it’s raining to beat the band, and so perhaps we’ll (or at least I’ll) avoid the chore all together.

Miklos has a younger sister who just went off to college in England, so I’ll be in Miklos’ room for the night and he and M.E. will be in the sister’s room. They lived here for a month when they were married and at Henry’s for a month as well, as they were looking for an apartment.

Dinner started with schnapps. I thought the bottle said Paprika and was prepared for some real nastiness in a glass, but it was apricot, and was strong but tasty. The entrée was a choice of cold soups: a salty / seasoned purée of cauliflower and a creamy sweet fruit soup with canned peaches. I think they were canned. They had that slightly gelatin-y look to them. I went for the cauliflower and it was quite good, though I caught myself blowing on a spoonful it a few times out of habit.

It was a bit of a mix up in the language department. Miklos’ mother speaks very serviceable English. She recently went to England for a month to study, and knew some before that. Her English isn’t perfect, but she’s very good at getting her ideas across. She has a boatload of energy. Just before dessert, she dashed off to take the dog for a run before it got too dark and she made it back before the ice cream had to be put in the freezer.

The main course was a delicious dish, paprikas something, yellow pepper stuffer with a turkey and rice meatball of huge proportions. It was then boiled in a tomato sauce. Very good. Miklos’ parents debated whether potatoes or bread was the preferred accompaniment.

As I was saying, today is a national holiday in honor of St. Istvan (Steven). There’s a joke about this. It doesn’t translate at all from the original Hungarian, but I will put it in writing here. St. Steven had a famous reliquary that was used in processions quite frequently: the bones of his right wrist. The joke goes: What is the history of Hungary in one sentence? The answer: From right wrist to left dick. It’s a joke because, there’s a crude expression in Hungarian for someone who particularly stupid. It’s as if he doesn’t even know how to screw correctly. So the joke is that the current leader (and the beauty of the joke is it applies to almost any leader who hasn’t achieved saint status) is a real loser.

Another common sly Hungarian insult I learned is how kids sometimes insult each other. A good zinger is to tell someone they’re as stupid as six bulls. One bull is stupid, but six, that’s almost tragic dimwittedness, right? Therefore, if you start referring to someone in the plural, you’re alluding to him or her as a six-bull moron. I’m going to try it in English, as I know several people in North America who are well past four bulls themselves.

After dinner, I took some photos, looked that the beautiful album of the Gaspar’s trip to Los Angeles and the Grand Canyon. I now really want to visit; it looks amazing (the grand canyon, not L.A). We watched the fireworks on TV, and then I headed to bed.



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Arriving in Budapest

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Dinner at ‘Make You A Pig’


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