Despite the fact that I’ve been here for so long, and I’m getting accustomed to the weirdness that Budapest and Hungary throws at me, on occasion, things happen that just catch me off guard. Last weekend was a perfect example for two reasons. I decided to go to a meeting of the Korea Club with one of my friends who spent half a year in Korea. They were learning how to make bibimbap. While I should have expected it, I didn’t think that the whole evening would be in Hungarian (makes sense doesn’t it?) But even with my friend translating, the whole experience was rather uncomfortable. It wasn’t very inclusive and it was hard to participate – especially as I didn’t speak the language. I was expecting the opportunity to do my own cooking, but that wasn’t really the case. We chopped, others cook.
I stopped having Hungarian lessons awhile back and this was the first time in a long while that I had to turn on that part of my brain. It was really exhausting. But I was happen to know that I could at least more or less follow the conversation. I don’t know what is exactly being said, but I can understand the context and probably guess what is being said. But only if I try really hard. Its exhausting!
The next day I was making a Korean dinner and I wanted some tofu to put in it. I picked some up and it wasn’t until I was paying for it that I realized it wasn’t normal tofu. That it was, in fact, smoked. Smoked tofu?! Seriously what the hell? That is weird! When you open the package you get a very strong smell of smoked flavour that I associate with cheese. Even my Hungarian friend who spent half a year in Korea said it was weird. But my Bulgarian friend thought it was perfectly fine. And I can understand why. They’re adjusting it to the demographic. Here anything and everything is smoked, so why not tofu? Maybe it’ll get more Hungarians eating it. But I much rather eat normal tofu.
The word füstölt means smoked
Goes to show, no matter how prepared you are, random things around culture are sure to surprise you when you’re living abroad.
What weird things have you encountered in your travels?