Viszlat

We had Yanshuo over to lunch on saturday to prepare his own farewell meal :P
All Hungarian food, of course, since we met in Budapest for the first time (second time for LZ) and started being good friends there.


I made the gulyasleves on Friday night in the slow cooker – the meat was sauteed in paprika and fennel seed (sposed to be caraway, like anyone can find that here) in the wok first, which made it stay cubic despite the slow cooker. This was not real authentic, probably because I couldn’t get fresh Hungarian paprika – as in the actual pepper, not paprika powder (not that the paprika powder was authentic either!!!). In the English world it is known as Hungarian Wax Pepper and could not be found in any supermarkets in singapore (the Hungarian demographic way smaller than the latino demographic). LZ suspects the same recipe would taste authentic if created in Budapest, simply cause of the availability of ingredients. Oh well! I probably have to do a whole lot of tweaking to the recipe to make it palatable but I won’t be making this again anytime soon – it tasted more mexican than anything (and actually the ingredients are pretty similar to beef barbacoa)


Yanshuo was in charge of the csirke paprikas, or chicken in paprika sauce. The gravy was really thick, compared to what I prepared with my Hungarian class – probably we did it right this time, because Yanshuo is a competent cook and in general I don’t trust the cooking of the day to day American. This tasted pretty good, although the sour cream seems to dilute the taste of the gravy a little. We also bought too much chicken for lunch and too little chicken for lunch and dinner.


Liangze was in charge of the uborkasalata, or sliced cucumber in a vinegar based dressing :P While buying the groceries for this meal (which fed 10 people – 6 for lunch and 4 for dinner for < $50), we discovered artificial white vinegar and regular white vinegar – anyone knows the difference?
The uborkasalata tasted the most similar to what Klara used to serve for dinner :) probably due to the simplicity of the recipe and the type of ingredients called for.


For carbs I made some pogacsa – or bacon and parmesan scones. The dough was done in the breadmaker, then the scones were shaped by hand.


I thought these were the best part of the meal – savory, hot out of the oven (I timed them to be done just before we started to eat), buttery, and great for dipping in the gulyasleves or csirke paprikas sauce. This recipe was from the BBC, and my mum loved them.


The AMK Fairprice Xtra was out of phyllo dough – sigh! So I bought spring roll skins instead – much cheaper, and only slightly thicker. I brushed each sheet liberally with a mixture of sour cream and vegetable oil to get them to brown and crispy in the oven – it worked, but I’d put too many layers for the almas retes (Apple strudel – the way it’s made and served in Germany, Hungary, most of continental Europe, which is nothing like the kind we have at Ritz Apple Strudel (which tastes way better, in my opinion, and that of most singaporeans) – like the first time Mariko brought me to the Strudel House at Arany Janos utca and we ordered some poppy seed strudel we were majorly disappointed at the flakiness of the pastry and the ratio of filling to pastry.


I forgot to bring some over to his house for dinner last night! So my parents had to finish the two gigantic spring rolls with apple filling masquerading as Almas Retes. It wasn’t too bad, liangze liked it a lot. For some reason Hungarians like their apple filling grated, instead of cubed, like in American apple pie – so making almas retes makes making apple pie look positively easy. We had to squeeze all moisture out of the grated apples though, enough to fill one jam jar with apple juice and it tasted pretty good! Like mulled apple cider (cause the grated apple was stewed with cinnamon and sugar as well).

Ma belle

I’ve been picking out pictures to develop to put in the photo album charlotte brought us from mexico and found a bunch of budapest pictures that haven’t been edited, taken when michelle was there visiting me. I really miss her. Even though sometimes her outspokenness really made me want to hide in a corner and she kept making and remaking plans, filling my head with a huge buzz, she was always happy. And you really can’t discount the value of a happy friend (after i’ve had the other kind). She did so many little things to make us happy that I took for granted, like bringing a card to liangze’s performance for all of us to write congratulatory things to him on his last performance, bringing me a birthday present from vienna (that turned out to be a pouch for a hair iron :S but hey, at least she remembered, which is more than i can say), giving me a blank wooden egg to decorate since she found out about liangze’s love for carved eggs, bringing me a pencil filled with little gems from the national geographic because I gave her my hulking big crystal rock purchased in the boston aquarium (she actually carted it back from ithaca to vienna lol), eating with us, treating us to dinner at the italian restaurant in salzburg because it was liangze’s birthday… she is actually incredibly thoughtful and generous and completely non-whiny. Even if she has people she doesn’t like at work and she thinks her work is kinda pretentious and shitty she doesn’t whine about it to us unless we ask her about it. And she is always saying how she is so happy because she gets to see us and gets to feast with us (we always go feasting, in the same manner as how other people may go to the movies or go skating or something. it is after all difficult to find people who love food as much as us to spend that much money on it.) and y’know how i said at a certain age one should have their lives together and instead of imposing on their friends for help out of sticky situations, figure out how to increase their happiness? she does that pretty damn perfectly.

what i miss most? holding hands and trudging through the inch thick leaves in varosliget park, kicking everything in the way in an extremely stress-releasing manner. also, being koalas on the budapest metro and hugging the huge pillar, dog-tired after running around all day doing fun touristy things.

her birthday passed 20th june and i forgot to send a card! agh agh agh.

Last suppers

I accidentally packed the sheet of paper detailing which restaurants we have yet to go to so I shall document it here, along with last minute stuff I need to do.

Restaurants:
1. Nobu
2. Comme chez soi (for the french garlic herb butter that just MELTS like bearnaise)
3. Olimpia (to see our fav waiter)
4. Pata Negra?
5. Pomo D’oro (panna cotta)
6. 50 Bar (amazing chilli chocolate cake. check out the “Chestnut desk” they appear to offer for dessert. I don’t even know what non-furniture equivalent it can be) – swapped for Kono Pizza
7. Pavillon de Paris. haven’t been here in a while!

We don’t even have that many meals left! Maybe we shld skip the more average ones like Olimpia and Pata Negra.

Things to do:
1. return/sell books to the red bus
2. Visit Daubner cukraszda and buy ourselves a nice slice of cake for surviving today’s hell. When we are there, buy diabetic friendly beigli for erika, regular makos beigli for zoli, and diospure beigli for the smiths (and maybe for our breakfast on the 24th). And maybe grow some imagination so I’ll give people more creative presents.
3. return the phone + wodehouse novel to erika at the farewell party!
4. give mariann my forwarding address + envelope + stamps to forward any remaining mail to ithaca
5. go for my last piano lesson and GET A PIC WITH ZOLI
6. get a pic with the smiths (fix with them how to get to velence after 5)
7. pack up the last of my luggage and move more stuff to liangze’s house by thursday.
8. download all the movies we need for the trip, load them into the memory cards
9. book hotels for the rest of the trip, starting with brussels,bruges, and amsterdam >_< the rest can wait till later :P gosh we are such procrastinators.

Beigli

We found a really great cukraszda on the buda side yesterday, where dan took us there to try his favourite rendition of the esterhazy cake. the cukraszda is also taking orders for beigli, which is a sort of roll, like the peanut pancake we have, but rolled up (jolly bean style) and with poppy seeds or walnuts in them. i tried their orange truffle cake, liangze had the dobos torta, and marion had the milk chocolate cake. they were ALL good, the cream was very well mixed, compared to the cheaper tasting creams everywhere else. it’s sad that we’ve only JUST found the cukraszda and what with finals looming we hardly have time to eat in nice (far away) places anymore and if we bought a whole beigli there is not a chance of finishing it unless we offer it to yanshuo and his family who are coming. either we come back early from our trip, or we find some way to squeeze it in after finals, where we already have to pack up all our crap, make a trip to velence, return my mobile and the wodehouse book to erica, go to the farewell party to check our transcripts (sounds like a very macabre kind of party), settle my rent, try to give away all the books i acquired to second hand bookstores, all in the span of 2 days.

the interesting thing about the cukraszda is that i’ve been trying to find it for quite a while. I saw a guy on the bus carrying a cake box, but i couldn’t figure out the name of the confectionery that produced the cake cause the logo is quite illegible, and the name of the cukraszda was only printed on one side of the cake box, which meant it was out of view most of the time. but yesterday when Dan took us there I saw the logo for the shop and it was exactly what was printed on the cake box! People who know me well will know it’s not beneath me to drag liangze around chasing after a complete stranger just to see the name of a cukraszda so awesome that people buy entire cakes from it on the box. just like how i dragged mingsee around raffles city so we could figure out if this woman we saw was pregnant or just… dumpy.

we stumbled upon a moses bridge in the west netherlands (Halsteren) which we’ll probably try to visit before getting to rotterdam. it’s sort of the opposite of an infinity pool- the bridge is sunken into the water, so you can’t really see it unless you’re on it. I think it’s a great piece of architecture.

heart

whenever i walk past a homeless person here sleeping on the floor in the labyrinthine rabbit burrow that is the train station i feel an unspeakable urge to ask them if they want a hot drink or to drag them into okay italia and buy them a nice big bowl of tomato soup. it is FRIGID here. they have no home! what is the welfare system doing? I have a bed in my living room and two couches, but i am pretty sure my housemates are not okay with me bringing hobos home. the only reason i don’t actually act upon my urges is that 1) i am too shy 2) my knowledge of hungarian is too limited to convey my sentiments without accidentally insulting them. i suppose i could ask them if they want a hot drink (kersz egy forró ital?) but most of them have covered their face with a thick blanket like a “do not disturb” door hanger. there are so many of them! sleeping on park benches or underground on a VERY dirty floor next to the wall. how can there be nowhere indoors for them to go? even sitting in the mall on a bench until it closes is preferable. i feel so cold for them.

today a bunch of primary school kids boarded my bus, all bundled up in their winter wear, and got off at the next stop. they were all wearing knits and woollen beanies with huge puffballs! they were just adorable.
think this:
it’s so cute that the distance between two bus stops is too long for their wee legs to walk, or perhaps their guardians thought it more prudent to take them by bus lest one of them get knocked down by a car crossing the street en masse.

the bus i take to school drops me off at szt istvan utca, (st stephen street, different from where i stay which is st stephen blvd). straight ahead is my school, and across the street from the bus stop is szt istvan university, vet fac. most of the students who take my bus go to the vet school, and when they get off they have to cross the street (no traffic lights or crossings or anything of the sort) to their school. On tuesday, after the bus driver let us off, the students waited for the bus to pass before they crossed the street. instead the bus driver parped them all across, (there was quite a handful of kids who were very pleasantly surprised by his letting them go first), kept parping down the street at each student that gave the bus the right of way, and did not move forward until every last one was safely ensconced on the other side of the road. it was SO endearing, like a mother hen herding her little chicklings off to school. meanwhile all the cars were queuing up behind the bus (most of whom wouldn’t have let the students cross first) so all the kids could go to school. it’s almost like taking a school bus to school :) I never got to take the school bus in my life.

fact: on traffic lights in italy, the red light gets a MUCH bigger circle than the amber and green lights. probably because it’s the most ignored.

T-T

This week is otaku week! i haven’t attended any 8am lessons yet and in fact my lessons on wednesday and thursday start at 12pm because combinatorics today was cancelled! which means i can stay up in the wee hours of the morning watching anime (or helping hq set his university challenge questions -.-). i’ve been watching the ouran high school host club on crystal’s recommendation. think gakuen alice is much better (the ouran high school host club has no.. suspense. and is not as funny. and i don’t like pretty boys that much), but it’s addictive enough and quite creative at times too. like when they had their little terrarium holiday with the crocodiles. i hate the episodes with the zuka club (srsly, who cares about a club that performs plays etc. that’s so everyday and lots of people watch anime to escape from the mundaneness of their own lives right?) and my favourite character is mori-senpai. I really hoped he would get together with Haruhi, because well he’s so silent and stoic and strong, somewhat like Haruhi, but perhaps the selling point of this anime is no silly schoolgirl romances. I myself haven’t quite outgrown silly schoolgirl romances.

Someone at BSM is trying to set up a Secret Santa. i’ve always wondered if secret santa’s were set up so someone could confess their love to someone else (i.e. the organizer almost always has a crush on someone and wants an excuse to do nice things for that person or one of the organizer’s best friends is afflicted with the love bug and so the organizer organizes it to provide a window of opportunity for the guy in question to see how wonderful and selfless and cool her best friend is.) the fact that we were told we can tell the organizer who we want to be a secret santa to only reinforces my hypothesis. Well if i signed up I’d want to be a secret santa to jamie, for sure. :D liangze and i are quite in our own little bubble here actually, and are completely (and blissfully) unaware of any romance developing around us. although i guess we would like to see our dear janos hooked up with some mathsy girl here no one seems to be up to par lol.

can’t believe i’m going to italy next week. we haven’t really stopped feasting because i kind of overdrew my forints and so we’re trying to eat it up. I live right next door to several very good money changers and they post the exchange rate outside and update it quite regularly (>4 times a day) so whenever the US to HUF conversion is more than 223 HUF I just draw 100,000 HUF which is about $430. Recently it’s been going off the charts at 233 HUF to 1 USD, so I drew again, and have too much Hungarian currency. Still, it’s quite lucrative I think, since when the rates go down I can always switch it back to US or euro and turn a profit. I love how all the European economies are slumping, and slumping harder than the US economy.

In other news, did you know the spanish have their own version of creme brulee? We’re going to a tapas place today for lunch and when looking up the menu online (to see if I would like anything there) I saw that they had crema catalana. We are going to try Onyx on friday for lunch (it is one of the two michelin starred restaurants here) and i’m very excited!

oh yes, the title. Last week we had a midterm in which I didn’t know how to do some of the questions and so I asked liangze (assuming him to be the norm) if he could do everything and he said that he could. Well I knew he was smart and all but I also kinda assumed everyone in the room was as smart as him, i.e. everyone else could do every single question but me and you have no idea how ego crushing that is. Well we got our results back this week and that stupid fool topped the class, and is completely NOT representative of a normal person taking an exam (i.e. me -_-) and it sucks because the only person I talk to about an exam after we take it is the one person who probably got the highest for it (he’s topped combinatorics and geometry so far) which makes me feel like i must be stupider than average. We’ve been scouting around for bimbotic girls (or boys, mustn’t be sexist) to small talk about exams post facto so i’ll feel better about myself :D

M

Lol only in times of scarcity are all the like-minded people popping up!

Gosh I hope the supply resumes, or i’d be heartbroken. The eight packets i have left are fast reaching the end of their lifespan (if they haven’t reached it yet.)

Life has been in some upheaval lately. Things seem to keep changing over here, I can’t even keep track of what is going on or what I am feeling. At a certain point i just sit back and let life happen to me without really paying attention to the details. It’s amazing the things I can do in autopilot:

1. play piano for church
2. book hotels in italy
3. take michelle around budapest
4. finish watching series 6 and 7 of peepshow
5. bear the full brunt of peepshow withdrawal symptoms
6. sulk about how shitty my grades are compared to liangze’s. SIGH

I have learnt how to delay feeling annoyed until I no longer feel annoyed. Also I have learnt that certain pictures you post on fb are “girl” pictures and will be liked by girls, whereas certain other pictures are “boy” pictures and will be liked by boys. In particular most documentary pictures are “boy” pictures and autumnal pictures are “girl” pictures. And food pictures are “girl” and “boy” pictures.

I’ve also been slightly unhappy with my fb habits recently. I feel like I’m morphing into a c*****, when i post pictures and wait for people to compliment me on my pictures, and then thank them, all the while feeling pompously self-satisfied. I definitely don’t want my id to persist in its baseness and hanker after human approval. I am an able photographer and an able post-processor but I don’t want people to take notice of me, and I don’t want to be so insecure I need people to like what I put on fb. For the most part I’d prefer that people completely ignore me and help to cure my self-absorption. On the other hand there is a little wiggling seed of doubt that if nobody likes my pictures, I am worthless.
So I don’t know if I should keep posting them. It seems so easy to fall into a certain c*****-esque personality where people adore your work and you mistakenly translate that into adoration for your self and feel doted on when the reality is that nobody really cares about either you or your work at all.

The main reason for my starting to post pictures (like travel pictures) on fb is like this. We used to publish our travel pictures under liangze’s account for the benefit of his parents and my mum (he is friends with all of them, ever the diplomat) (i wasn’t even friends with my own mum until recently). In a skype conversation with liangze, his father (or mother) said, “You know, Ivana took two really good photos in this album (out of the many, many noteworthy photographs we had taken of scenery and mountains etc.). The first is the one of you at the top of the mountain talking to us on your handphone, and the other is the one of you with your two new toys that we got you for your birthday.” That was it! All my skill, neatly condensed into two shots of my boyfriend, who is cute, but not that cute. That was also when I realised that his parents really only want to see photos of their beloved son, and all the 风景 is secondary. I could have taken him posed against a garbage dump, or in his room, or just waking up with his awful stubble, or snoring with his mouth wide open, and that would still be the best photos in an album with the seven wonders of the world. Also I think lengthy albums annoy adults, they don’t want to look through albums and albums of people’s photos. So we started dividing the documentary shots into his albums, and the scenic ones into mine. Previously when all my shots were in his albums, I didn’t really care if nobody liked them, they weren’t my business anymore. But now I care. Because it’s under my name. Somehow in my twisted mind I’ve managed to equate liking my photos to liking me. What strange new manner of arrogance is this?

The long hiatus in posting is also in part due to my hovering between writing my posts in italian and losing whatever little is left of my readers in exchange for getting back in touch with my favourite language of all before I go to Italy and completely disgrace the intensive language education afforded by Cornell.