Thursday, January 20, 2011

Holstens étterem (Holstens restaurant)

Allow me to set the scene: it is somewhere between 11:45 and 12:30, I'm sitting in my room, having just finished writing up a new blog or uploaded pictures when my phone rings. *Ring ring* "Hi, Meghan, it is Adam. Would you like to go to the Holsten's? Yes? Ah, ok, ten minutes? Ok, szia." This has become somewhat of a routine for me, anxiously awaiting the phone call that lets me know that it is time for lunch. I get my things ready and head downstairs of the hostel to meet Adam; like every day, he will drive me to the city center. The short trip consists of a few stoplights. We pass by some road construction, forcing this 4 lane road into 3. There is never any traffic. Just past the police station, we make a right hand turn and are now on the main street that will lead us to the restaurant. This area is usually packed with pedestrians and bikers, causing the cars to make frequent stops, allowing them the right of way. We find a parking spot and head inside. Here's where the fun officially begins.
We enter into Holsten's, hang up our jackets on the coat rack and wander into the food line. During the week, they serve food in an assembly line fashion, with the patrons walking up to the counter to order and receive their food before finding a seat. The menu changes daily, always including two soups, a few meat selections as the main dish, chips (french fries), rice, or another starch-type food as a side. You also can choose some variation of salad. Before ordering, Adam (or whoever I am with) must attempt to explain the different dishes, as it is always written in Hungarian and, as the menu changes daily, there is no English menu for me to use. It always makes for a great laugh. A couple times, Niki and/or Adam have prepared a "menu of the day" for me, translating the menu into English using the Google translator. Despite my usually impulsive selection, I have yet to be disappointed by the food. Everything is authentic Hungarian cuisine, and always is delicious and filling. Before each meal, I've been trying to take photos of the food, resulting in a round of laughter from whomever I am dining with. I constantly remind them that, when they come to visit me in America, they will do the exact same thing. My point has yet to be proven, but I know that it is just a matter of time.
Back to the main point: food. The meal always starts with a type of soup; húsleves is a broth/bouillon, borscs leves (something that Niki has yet to try) is a combination of vegetables and cabbage, and gombaleves is mushroom soup. Yes, I know what many of you are thinking: Meghan hates mushrooms. Well, allow me to inform you, I've been converted. Don't go expecting me to eat them raw anytime soon, but my palate is gradually growing accustomed to their spongy texture. For the main dishes, I've sampled much more than the examples I will provide, but this gives you a general idea: garlicky pork roast with french fries, fried turkey breast (rántott pulykamell) with rice (rizs), turkey breast filled with smoked cheese and mashed potatoes (burgonyapüré).

Each meal is concluded with a glass of water, a nod from Adam, and, grabbing our coats, we leave. I get dropped off at the hostel with an exchange of "szia".

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