The Art of Travel

surprise Hungarian menu

Of course, blogging is part of arm chair tourism.  With modern technology, we can communicate with anybody anywhere who can tell us everything about anything. We can travel the whole world without lifting our ever growing behinds from our seats. We don’t need to go to China, we just read about it on the internet. We don’t need to taste exotic food, we just buy a whole world of cookery books without ever using them.  I wonder how many people will, after reading a recipe in a blog, actually cook it?

As the world is getting smaller, it is getting more & more difficult to submerge yourself into the unknown.  We don’t want to let go of the control we have over our environment.  Instead of stepping into the world, we let the world come to us, through our mobile phones & computers, with more & more apps as new control mechanisms.

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But I like to be surprised. I just love wandering aimlessly in big cities, never knowing what is around the corner. Maybe it is all Budapest’s fault.

In the summer of 1989 I embarked on my first solo travel, a month touring (then still communist) Hungary.  At the eve of the revolution, Budapest was a very vibrant city. There were concerts all over town every night, and because they were so cheap they were attended by people from all different classes. I saw my first Opera. Daytimes I picnicked in parks, discovered a massive variety of little shops  – one specialised in bow ties  – and had cakes & coffee in all the  classic cafés. Ah, Dobos Torte in Café Gerbaud!

It’s funny how food plays such an important role in my memories of that holiday, even though I wasn’t a chef back then. The cold cherry soup I had in scorching summer heat is still ranked among the best things I’ve ever tasted. But Tokaj and Eger Bulls Blood wines, Gundel pancakes and Chicken Paprikas could easily be added to that list.

English wasn’t widely spoken – the older generation spoke a bit of German. So ordering something from an Hungarian menu was a bit of an adventure. But you soon learn the words for soup, chicken & some cooking techniques. And you can’t go wrong with Goulash.

I fancied making Goulash this week. But the rest of the menu will be a surprise. Because I like cooking for people who are willing to take a risk. It adds to the spice of life.  Eating at Oren is rising from your armchair, let go, and go on a culinary travel where you never know what is around the corner.

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