70 Hungarian postcards to the 70-year-old Israel
Hungarian suitcase import
By Sándor Silló - 2018-03-01
Translated from the Hungarian original: Bea Sara Goll
One of the neighbors of my friend Dani is addicted to Unicum. He, a Sabra, would hunt on Hungarian social media for a dealer to get him a drink if his supply is running low. Israeli urban legend claims that because of the cross on the glass, not even Russian smugglers, not known to be too shy otherwise, would take on regular imports. This is when the
Hungarian suitcase import comes into effect.
When the Wizzair machine has landed on Ben Gurion and they take a look at the luggage of those returning from Budapest, the Israeli customs officers are not at all surprised if a rod of salami or something similar is found. We became known for these private import samples. Israelis don’t normally drink Hungarian booze; at most the good Hungarian wines, their favorite sorts, our pálinka or the infamous Unicum.
I can’t give you reliable import data from the Hungarian suitcase import, but the winner is probably the paprika. Richi and Jael are an old couple. Entering their kitchen, the first thing they brag about is their Hungarian paprika. Not from the shop! An old woman grows, dries and grinds it somewhere around Kalocsa. His grandson often comes, he supplies several families who have Hungarian roots, but he also has native born and bred Israeli customers. We often have overnight guests from Pest. When that happens, one or two rods of winter salami land in our "custom-warehouse." The availability of our butcher from Vecsés is already a cherished source among frequent travelers and relatives. Gyulai sausage looks funny with Hebrew characters. The homemade smoked meat – from the Old Country - price-value ratio beats the one from the New Country as long as we do not have to add a kosher certificate.
The same way, we get Aszútörköly or Apricot Brandy if we organize it well, from friendly brewers. They then disappear into the throats of Israeli house-parties, raising the international reputation of the Hungarian pálinka.
I do not think that the Hungarian food industry suitcase import would significantly change Israel's gastronomic culture, but as a small piccolo we, too, add some noise to the big band.
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