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Welcome to The Lotus Position, an intermittent collection of extempore navel gazings, ponderings, whinges, whines, pontifications and diatribes.

Everything is based on a Sample of One: these are my views, my experiences... caveat lector... read the Disclaimer

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey


Monday, 27 August 2007

Bograch - Stewed Concepts and the Concept of Stew

Sunday was visiting the in-laws day, in Erdotelek about an hour and a half from Budapest with the promise of bograch to look forward to!

Is the promise of bograch a good thing? Well, yes - it's a traditional way of cooking a stew outside in a large (in this case 22L) pan hanging from a tripod over an open fire - although I suppose the "outside" is optional if you are adequately prepared.

It's a wonderful traditional, social event. There can be collective preparation of the ingredients (mostly home grown yesterday) and collective fire-tending throughout the cooking process, though the men seem instinctively to prefer the latter to the former. In fact, I was so struck by the way in which the three men (self included) gravitated to the fire, scrutinised it carefully, adjusted the arrangement of twigs and branches that were feeding the fire and generally pampered it that I began to wonder whether there is a genetic element at work here it was so much like nest-building.

What a wonderful experiment to be done! Collect a large number of people and sort them according to the degree to which they assist the experimenter with keeping a fire (of course the experimenter must lie to them about the purpose of the experiment...) Divide the candidates into three groups - pyrophiles, pyro-neutrals, and "pyrophobes". Then do a genomic analysis of those most pyrophilic and compare the results with those who clearly couldn't care less about those lovely orangey flames.

Of course there could be some interesting implications if there were found to be a genetic element to this behaviour, such as the speed with which it our genome had changed to deal with fire - and the potential mitigating factor for arsonists. "M'lud, my client pleads Not Guilty! He is an innocent victim of his own homozygosity having an over-expressed FireStarter gene and thus not responsible for his actions..."

Does arson run in families?

Anyway while the bograch (left) was cooking, the garden was eerily haunted by something that sounded like a ring-tone through a megaphone. In hindsight, it probably was.

Whatever it was, the sound turned out to be the local equivalent of the English ice-cream van announcing the availability of flakes and ice-lollies, except that in Erdotelek they don't sell ice-cream, they sell candyfloss and kürtös kalács (right).

Kürtös kalács is, according to one randomly selected source (hence of unknown accuracy - but this seems to confirm the essence of it), "specific to the Székely Region of Transylvania...", Transylvania having once been a Hungarian domain, now part of Romania. It's a hollow, cylinder-shaped pastry (the edible thing, not Transylvania) with a variety of different coatings on offer - sugar, walnut, honey, etc. - and rather tasty.

Anyway, back to the strange ring-tone of the spheres... the source seemed to be moving quickly - and it was getting nearer! I dashed to the road in time to see the vending vehicle swoosh by - and to hear the sound clearly enough to be able to identify the ring-tone as... "We wish you a Merry Christmas".

So next time you are wished unseasoned greetings, take a peek outside to see if some tatty red estate car with a megaphone sticky-taped to the bonnet is doing the rounds... could be worth it (how's your Magyarul?)


Louise said...

I love this blog... made me crack a smile... wish all blogers would write with such humour.. Anyway, about Kurtos-kalacs. I too discovered Kurtos when visiting Hungary. I now have a small business selling Kurtos kalacs ovens and have shipped them all over the world! So for those interested in just 'havin a go' or selling Kurtos visit my web site and take a lookie xxx www.kurtos-kalacs.com