Tuesday, 31 July 2012


There was a lot of twittering recently about a man from America who'd been at the Wheeler Centre  in Melbourne pointing out that food corporations make disgusting food. He was advocating a return to purer food sources, I think. What I dislike about both Australia and England in this context is the fact that, to buy food that farmers haven't been paid tuppence for and that doesn't come in sealed plastic boxes and so forth, you have to turn to trendy 'alternative' stores or get up at some appalling time in the morning and go to a so-called farmers' market.

Here in Hungary I've barely seen a plastic box containing food for weeks. That makes a change, particularly from Sainsbury's, where I used to shop when I lived in London - but Australian supermarkets are also pretty keen on putting stuff onto polystyrene trays and wrapping it all up in yards of clingfilm. These things may come, of course, but for now, despite the fact that Tesco's is engaged in a creeping invasion of Hungary, it has not yet conquered all before it.

As a result, for the time being in Budapest my choice is not limited to chain stores or upmarket 'wholefood' places. Here, I either go round the corner to the greengrocer - a kindly man with a moustache who is on such good terms with some of his female customers that, after hearing all the ins and outs of their family's ailments et cetera, as he measures out apricots and potatoes, and then carrying their groaning bags out to the pavement and ensuring they've grasped them firmly enough to get back up the street to their apartments, he receives  warm goodbye kisses - or I go to one of the local markets.

There's nothing especially exciting about any of the stuff on offer - it's not exotic like Brunei. However, I love the sheer abundance and the faces of some of the people behind the counters:

Uh oh, plastic boxes - whatever happened to those wicker punnets of my childhood

My husband likes this lady because she calls him young man - and indeed, if I go to the market without him, she asks where the young man is (I suppose youth is a matter of perspective)


  1. very good point Z, and one that more people should take on board! (of course this sort of thing used to be fine when you had your local greengrocers but they are hard to find these days - although we are lucky to have an amazing one in our town that blows the supermarkets out of the water and is consequently rammed all day every day!)

    1. I hope you live near Bishop's Waltham (see today's post) and it is the shop I remember that has survived

  2. Great pictures, ZMKC. I have it on good authority that because of the pictured lady stallholder's smart sales pitch, your husband is a big fan of that market. There seems to be a major difference between the English-speaking countries and continental Europe on this issue. The former have basically ditched everything but supermarkets - with the few often self-consciously trendy exceptions you mention - whereas the choice in Budapest is comparable to other Continental countries isn't it? I can't vouch for say the Nordic countries or Holland but traditional markets still seem to provide an alternative in France, Italy, Austria etc too (although I can't think of another city like Budapest where each of the districts has its own substantial covered market for stallholders).

  3. The real sorrow when one sees beautiful fresh foods like these is that it's often cheaper and less trouble to sit down at a fast food joint and gorge on the culinary delights on offer there.