Tastes of Home: What Hungarians Living Abroad Always Take with Them from Hungary
Tom Szigeti 2016.11.03.
There’s no taste like home! In this article, writers for the website HelloMagyarok! who live outside of Hungary discuss the Hungarian products they swear by, that they buy whenever they come home to visit.
“It’s a strange thing. Honestly it’s only when we go home [to Hungary] that we notice how much we miss certain foods, tastes, and aromas. Bean gulyás (soup) with pogácsa (biscuits), lecsó (a type of vegetable stew), túrós rétes (cottage cheese strudel), francia krémes, (napoleon pastries), corn-on-the-cob, Hungarian melons as sweet as honey, just to name a few. We try to store-up memories of all these experiences to last us until our next trip home, but to tide us over until then we bring some of our favorites with us: kolbász (Hungarian sausage), salami with paprika, vanilla circles, Sport brand chocolate candy bars, Túró Rudi (chocolate-covered cottage-cheese bars), and sunflower seeds. In addition, we also bring ingredients essential to Hungarian cooking, such as paprika, Delikat and Piros Arany brand flavor-enhancers, and tarhonya (egg barley). For us, these are the treasures for which the Hungarian version is the only true version.
Niki Pataki—Hong Kong
I mainly tend to bring cheese back with me from Hungary. In Hong Kong, where we live, one kilogram of cheese will run you between twelve and twenty thousand forint (approximately 40 to 65 euros), and on top of this the selection is rather limited. In my suitcase, alongside Sport chocolate candy bars and Erős Pista (a Hungarian hot-pepper sauce), most of the space is taken up by my 10-kilogram shipment of cheese.
Some good tastes of home…I don’t think I even need to explain the items seen in the picture (below). What isn’t in the picture, however, and which might be a bit strange, is that the first thing that we always do in Hungary is that my mom buys at least a half-year’ worth of tampons for me, because I haven’t been fortunate enough to find good ones (for me) either in England or here in Mexico. But it might be that I’m just too picky J.
Judith T Bacsa—Italy
The most basic things that we bring are poppy seeds and walnuts. These are practically impossible to find in Italy, and even if you can find them, they cost their weight in gold.
In addition to the usual Pick brand salami, Turó Rudi, and the rest, we always bring Béres brand fizzy vitamin tablets with us for the kids, and Plussz fizzy vitamin tablets for us. There are vitamin tablets here in Italy as well, but they have a terrible flavor, and are unbelievably expensive.
Two spices, that we always bring back with us, because our boys love soup, and because even here Christmas isn’t Christmas without mézeskalács (gingerbread):
And one bargain-bin item. There are incredible balsamic vinegars, apple-cider vinegars, and any other types of vinegar here in Italy. But not one is like this!
We would also love to bring Túró (Hungarian cottage-cheese) and sour cream with us, both of which you can’t get here in Italy, but unfortunately they would spoil during the journey.
Barbara Békési—The Netherlands
Even though I always try to travel with as small a suitcase as possible, these two items always seem to make it in. From time to time a kakaós csiga (chocolate pastry spiral) joins them, or possibly a batch of my mom’s homemade oatmeal cookies.
What we can bring with us from Hungary depends on a lot of different factors. Unfortunately, we always fly, which means what we bring is determined both by whether we’re travelling with a small bag or paying extra for a large suitcase, and by whether it’s the dead heat of summer or a cooler time of year.
We’ve already moved past bringing Túró Rudi and paprika, these days we have a set system for what we bring back, if we have the opportunity. Forget healthy eating: we always find room for home-made kolbász and töpörtyű (pork crackling), no matter how small the suitcase is. We don’t even care if it makes our clothes smelly. J
In addition to these the most important things are soup noodles, túró, semolina, horseradish mayonnaise, Globus brand mustard, Tibi brand chocolate. I always buy all the gossip magazines, and by the time we get home I’ve solved all the puzzles, because I don’t have time for them at other times anyway. IF I can bear the weight of them, I bring all the books suggested by my family. And what I would like to bring, but have never been able to: homemade fruit syrups, homemade jam, sour cherries, squashes, fresh snow peas, green beans, sorrel, watermelon, oh and the entire vegetable garden! Oh, and a dose of the aroma of Lake Balaton!
Unfortunately, this is all I have a photo of, because I’ve already used up everything else. This is Rossman’s house-brand make-up remover, which I really like. In addition, I also bring kefir, because they don’t have that here. Italy may be the home of coffee and cheese, but I never come back from Hungary without a wheel of Medve brand spreadable cheese and some Nescaffe! The latter can be found here as well, but it costs an unreasonably high amount….
Here in Chicago you can get almost everything that’s important for me to have at home and without which my kitchen supplies are incomplete: Csaba-style kolbász, Vegeta flavor enhancer, Maggi bouillon cubes, paprika from Szeged. But even with all this, there’s plenty for me to pack my suitcase with over the course of a visit to Hungary. Túró Rudi, Boci chocolate, Tokaji wine, homemade pálinka (Hungarian fruit brandy). I also tend to stock up at the drugstore as well, since here it’s harder to find those Dove products that I like. And naturally a few books find their way into the suitcase as well.
In addition to the usual kolbász, paprika, and the rest, a far less common item finds its way into my suitcase: Pannon Color artist paint. J Forget Bavarian beer, I bring a little palóc beer and elderflower syrup as well. Oh, and horseradish! In addition, we bring films on DVD, since Hungarian dubbing is much better than anyone else’s.
In Hungary, a large Tesco or Auchan, as well as a few bookstores, are enough for us to buy everything we need before the trip back to Finland. Paprika (see the photo), lots of quality wine, a case or two of Hungarian beer, Hungarian audio books, energy drinks, fruit, spices, magazines end up in the trunk. In addition to these we often buy some clothes and shoes from the local mall. Kolbász, of course, also makes its way to me in Helsinki….