Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving and warm wine

This was where I had Thanksgiving. A couple who I met at church Ed and Syble invited Alex and I over to their house for Thanksgiving. A guy named Akim from Ethiopia who wants to be a doctor and Pablo, from Cuba also came. They are church members as well.

It was my first Thanksgiving without my family but we had a lot of fun. We had ham, cornmeal stuffing, sweet potatoes covered with marshmallows, rice and mushrooms, gravy, whipped strawberry mousse, brownies, coconut cream cake, and of course, pumpkin pie. I actually made the pumpkin pie with a weird type of squash that looks like a butternut squash but tastes like pumpkin.

The next day, I went to my friend Zsombor's house and he taught me how to make traditional Hungarian hot wine. I had never heard of heating wine before so I was very curious. Alexandra, Tegan, Carlos, from Mexico, and his host sister came as well.

Since you know how much I love to cook, I thought I would share the recipe with you.

Stir red wine, cloves, cinnamon, lemon juice, and lots of white sugar together in a pan. Boil ingredients for five to ten minutes.

When we finished making it, we went outside and sat on the deck, wrapped in blankets and listened to Hungarian Christmas music. Zsombi sang his favorite Christmas carol that went something like this: "Small Christmas, big Christmas, where is the pork? Where is the pork?" I almost died laughing.

It really has started to feel like Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving, a gargantuan pine tree was place in front of the Nagy Templom in Kóssuth Tér. Christmas lights adorn the trees and fairy lights hang from the plaza walls. In Match, my favorite grocery store, hundreds of chocolate Santas wrapped in decorative aluminum foil fill the shelves. I cannot believe it is almost December and I have been here for four months.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


As a kid, I always dreamed of going to Venice. What could be more unique than a city where instead of cars, there were boats and in place of roads, water. A floating city.

Well this dream of mine finally became real when I found myself on a Rotary bus trip to Venice. We all met in Budapest October 19th. On October 20th, we arrived in Venice at contrary to the weather forcast, it was beautiful weather.

We took a boat over to the island and although many buildings looked worse for the wear, it was so historical and it made me imagine what the city used to look like when it was a major port. Did you know that Venice had a king at one time? It was almost like its own country. When we arrived, Béla told us that we could split up in groups and explore the city. The first place we went was to a big square full of pigeons. There were so many waddling pigeons that I was afraid to walk. Sometimes, it seemed they were walking on top of each other. One landed on my head which was special until I started trying to get it off. It seriously wouldn't budge!

Ofcourse I had tons of food. I snacked on the piyya which to be honest did not beat Mom's. It was circular and had only sauce and cheese on dough. The crust was good though. I had a mushroom calzone which was better and that is saying something because I generally hate mushrooms. I also ate tiramisu gelato. That was the best. It was light but sugary and you felt like you needed more.

I think what I liked most about Venice were the alleys and the canals. You could get lost for hours. Once you got past the touristy parts, Venice's true beauty cam eout. When I was in the alleyways, I felt a sense of solitude and peace. There were colorful clothes hanging from windows and oftentimes, a birdcage. Alone, I would be scared, but with a group, those long peaceful corridors were so inviting. Most of the time, they were made of brick.

One word to describe Venice is colorful. All the houses were either brick or a salmon pink. Occasionally, yellow. They weren't obnoxious colors like Romania and once the sun came out, it was beautiful. The salmon pink against the blue sky was something I wanted to paint.