Saturday, 24 January 2009

Budapest central market

I went to Budapest last weekend. I took over 400 photographs while I was there. I thought I'd post blog entries place by place. Early on our first morning in Budapest, we went to the central market hall, which is in Pest (Buda and Pest were separate cities divided by the River Danube until around 100 years ago). The market hall is a splendid building which is much more brightly coloured than my photos taken on a very dull day make it look. The roof tiles are all lovely colours.

Remember that if you click on the pictures, you can see a larger image.

The interior of the building is light and airy, and was full of Saturday shoppers...

We began with breakfast. I have always believed that you should have whatever the locals are having, so we had an unusual breakfast (for us) of bratwurst, paprika sausage and chips. It was 9.20 am so I didn't have the red wine that everybody else seemed to be drinking...

The upstairs area of the market was full of stalls selling souvenirs, folk costumes and lace, leather goods, clothes, toys and such like. These decorated 'Faberge' style eggs were beautiful.

This lace was originally hand made, I don't know if it still is. Budapest is is the only place where I have seen such brightly coloured motifs worked in the lace.

This stall was selling Russian dolls of all shapes, styles and sizes. Some of them were a little odd (terrorist & pop star themed dolls) but most were absolutely beautiful. There were also some really lovely hand carved 'St Nicholas' figures ranging from about 6 inches tall to about 15 inches tall, but I could see the stall holder wasn't too happy with me taking photos of his stall, so I moved on....

These were some of the traditional costume pieces on display.

We moved down to the ground floor, where all manner of food was on sale. There were many spice/paprika stalls, and the displays were beautiful. They all has strings of dried paprika peppers and garlic cloves hanging form their stalls.

Here's a smaller one, where I bought a bag of sweet paprika powder.

Even the organic veg stall had strings of paprika and garlic, this time alternated on the strings. The prices are in HUF (Hungarian Forints), of which there are around 300 to the £ or 222 to the $US.

This was a stall which sold biscuits and cakes....

The way they stack the fruit and veg high made it all look very attractive, but they must have a rapid turnover to have so much stock at any time - not a single item in the whole market looked even slightly 'tired' or wrinkly!

Goose and goose liver are common on Hungarian restaurant menus, so I shouldn't have been surprised to see Goose liver pate on sale in the market. This is also known as 'foie gras' and the methods of producing it are something I cannot agree with, so no matter how good it may be, I won't buy or eat it.

There were lots of sausage, salami & smoked meat stalls in the market, and again the sheer quantity of stock on display is quite different from most British market stalls.

If you are squeamish about animals or meat, perhaps you should stop here.

I was amazed that the meat stalls seemed to be species specific. In Britain, a butcher or market stall selling meat will sell all kinds of meat. In Budapest market, there were many stalls selling either pork meat or chicken meat, but I didn't see any other meats. The pork stalls sold the whole pig - in parts. Here in the UK, it is becoming harder and harder to find anything other than the 'best cuts' of meat, which is a shame because some of the cheaper cuts and offal make much tastier meals if cooked well.

This was a typical pork meat stall. The trader had similar quantities of meat to what i would expect to see in a British market or butcher shop.

This is what most of the stalls were like - meat piled high, but in a very neat and tidy way! There were snouts, ears, pieces of skin (to make crackling?), sides of belly pork, racks of ribs, trotters, offal, cheeks - everything except the oink!

And this stall had all of the above, plus a sucking pig.

This was the most bizarre moment in the market - we looked up and discovered that Margaret Thatcher had been here before us, and the stallholder was so proud of the visit, that he'd had a photograph englarged and displayed above his stall!!!