Now then. The man on the right, as you may or may not know, is Mr Deak Ferenc. Take a quick look, then answer the following question... d
oes he strike you as

a) sly?
b) moustachioed?
c) fashionable?

The correct answer of course, is c. If you answered a or b, then you've made a silly mistake. Have another look. It might be 132 years since Deak Ferenc died, but clearly, he's still a sartorial trailblazer... that vest/bib... those slanty buttons...
the nondescript haircut...this season, they're so in! In fact, confronted with a picture of our dapper friend, the rebranding of Deak Ferenc utca as FASHION STREET suddenly makes perfect sense. (Quite why we aren't currently changing trains at FASHION STATION, soaking up rays in FASHION SQUARE, and struggling to change FASHION FORINT NOTES is a mystery).

Okay, enough of that. In all seriousness, I have no idea wh
y FASHION STREET is still around. When the monstrous sign was first hauled over the side of an innocent building in late 2007, I grimaced and hoped that this was just end of year madness, that everything would return to normal once the twelve days of Christmas had passed. But it was still there yesterday and it'll probably be there tomorrow. An unfortunate, permanent (?) eyesore.

This afternoon, I wandered over to FASHION STREET, hoping to find out if there was any chance of all this nonsense coming to an end. The first thing I saw was a skip, a stone's throw away from a brightly coloured pair of mobiltoaletts, something you'd hardly expect to find on the Ginza. I strolled on a little further, and gradually realised that most o
f the customers on FASHION STREET were tough-looking men, pushing FASHIONABLE wheelbarrows, wearing FASHIONABLE workclothes. Cutting edge, I thought... is this what to expect from Paris and Milan 2008?

No, of course not. FASHION STREET is under construction. It was started on 6/11/07, to be finished on 15/3/08, and apparently a man called Tibor Kamondy is to blame. I stumbled across this information on a sign, shortly before I went into a shop charging 34,300 ft for a jumper, 20,400 ft for a t-shirt (on sale) and 104, 990 ft for a bag (not on sale).

It's hard to put a finger on what's so irksome about FAS
HION STREET. Maybe the fact that many Hungarians struggle to pay their heating bills, never mind 10,000 ft for an umbrella. Perhaps it's the transformation of an unassuming corner into a characterless, slightly pathetic imitation of streets in other cities (FASHION STREET would hardly look out of place in say, Peterborough). Or maybe it's not that at all... it could just be the fact that FASHION STREET really doesn't need a signpost.

Andy T.

Bad customer service is famously common in Hungary... there really isn't an awful lot you can do. You hardly want to start an argument with a ticket collector, or a shopkeeper, or a barmaid, just because they look like they've spent the entire day sucking on a lemon.

Anyway, at thehub, we're a bit sick of it, so we've decided to start sticking up for ourselves! In a small-minded, cowardly way! We're going to put a handful of these situations on the site, an intermittent naming and shaming (... having said that,
we probably won't get their names, and furthermore, as they're hardly likely to read this, they probably won't feel ashamed). We also want photos of the culprits, if we can possibly get away with taking one. This time, I couldn't.

So, Miserable People in Shops number 1, then. The following took place last week, in Match supermarket near Blaha...

Tuesday. 10 00 am. Who was miserable?

First, the cashier. Then me. But I wasn’t miserable before I met the cashier.

What was wrong with her?
Don’t know. When we first met she seemed fine, grumpy, but perhaps that’s what you expect. Working in Match first thing in the morning would make anyone grumpy. Initially, things were going very well… she scanned my food, I moved down to the end of the checkout to put my food in a bag. A familiar routine.

So where did it all go wrong?
Right about then. I was at the end of the till with a 5,000 forint note. But, she didn‘t turn around to take it. Instead she stood with her back to me, as if I'd magically disappeared.

Don’t know. Maybe she didn't like turning around because the staff in Match aren't given swivelly chairs. Making her a non-swiveller. So, she refused to turn around and haughtily tapped the little plastic shelf designed to put money on. I was obviously, foolishly, cluelessly, standing in the wrong place.

Where should you have been standing?
Slightly to my left and a little bit forwards.

How did all this finish?
I stood slightly to my left and a little bit forwards.

Did it make her happy?

Match Supermarket is in the square at Blaha. To get there, come out of the red metro's left hand exit onto Rakoczi. It's on the corner.

Andy T.

Commercial Underground

Now that I no longer have a television, my main link to the world of advertising is the metro. I think this has heightened my awareness of just how awful it can be, even though I can barely understand a word.

Bleary-eyed, I wait on the platform having just missed my train but I do at least have the comfort of a beaming five year-old, holding up a 10,000 Forint note like the Holy Grail. Magyar Nemzeti Bank, it seems, are rather keen to turn your kids into raving capitalists. But he doesn't know what money is! He's five! He probably thinks that's enough money to buy a spaceship! On the other hand, he looks rather at home standing in front of that safe; I wonder if he lives there, raised by Forints.

Perhaps the greatest recent advert offender is Pannon, who seem to have overlooked the potential of the slogan "If anyone pan, Pannon pan" or, indeed, "Hmmmm... Pannon". Instead, they've commissioned the wettest guy in history since man's ancestors crawled out of the sea, to grin along with his wife and the child he's unlikely to have fathered, at the bliss that a Pannon internet connection brings. Still, better that than the previous campaign, as he burst out of a molehill with a dirty telephone, grinning his obligatory grin at the improbable fortune that he'd completed his task without getting a single spot of mud on his shirt.

Family advertising seems to be the trend and pharmaceutical company, Ratiopharm, piles mother, father, son, daughter and grandparents onto one sofa and astonishes them with something out of view. Now, I've examined the looks on their faces and carried out a statistical analysis of their respective emotions, concluding that there's only one thing that they could possibly be staring at.

The BKV itself is trying to develop a more personal image too. They've come up with a lovely poster, just in time for Valentine's day: two ticket validating machines - the ones that never work, even if you've figured out that they're not electronic - are arranged to form a heart, and hence the statement "I heart BKV". To me this seems a little unrealistic. The addition of graffiti improved it a little: "I fuck BKV", which is true, if you're a habitual fare-dodger. But really it should have read, and you'll know this if you've splashed out on a monthly pass recently, "BKV fucks you!"

Andy Sz.

Pancakes I Have Known

Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday) is here again. The first pancake’s always rubbish isn’t it – you might as well give it to the dog, except Basil’s still at home in Kent. There’s no need to miss out on the pancake action whilst you’re here in Budapest – the palacsinta is a staple on any self-respecting Hungarian menu, after all. I like pancakes a lot, so it would seem like I'm in the right place. Here are some tales of my latest conquests.

Belvárosi Lugas Étterem
Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 15 [map]
Pest Centre, VI, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky (M1) or
Deák F. tér (M3), 2 mins

First stop: sour cherry-filled pancakes with almond sauce at the Belvárosi Lugas Étterem opposite St. Stephen’s Basilica. Big portion, loads of sour cherries, lovely and plump and shiny. The almond sauce however, was also generously slopped all over the pancakes, and since it was an unearthly pale green colour, the dish didn’t look very appetizing. Are almonds green? Maybe there was an accident with the food colouring in the kitchen. It made me anxious to wipe my mouth well after each forkful, to avoid walking out into Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út with green slime on my chin, looking like an extra from a zombie flick. I couldn’t finish it, but I left the restaurant with an enjoyable warm, if slightly gloopy feeling.

Alföldi Vendéglő
Kecskeméti utca 4 [map]
Pest Centre, V, Kálvin tér (M3), 1 min

Not a nation to miss a meat-eating opportunity, the Hungarians also stuff their pancakes with beef in a tasty dish from the eastern plains. Hortobágyi palacsinta are served covered in a pleasing swamp of soured cream and paprika sauce. I’d like to imagine the cowboys on the plains of the Hortobágy eating these, but they seem far too structurally unsound to eat on horseback. And if your horse decided to sit down on its hind legs before you’d finished it, then you’d really be in trouble.

The Alföldi Vendéglő offer it as a hearty starter (or heart-stopper?), which my friend ordered. She definitely made the right choice, I thought as I looked at my enormous beef-stuffed cabbage surrounded by a ‘garnish’ of fatty chunks of pork, drenched in a rich and salty tomato sauce. I looked across the coronary-red and salt-white tablecloth and envied her choice of meal. Beware the generous portions, but do visit for a genuine taste of Hungarian country cooking.

Berliner Pub
Ráday utca, 5. [map]
Pest South, IX,
Kálvin tér (M3), 4 min

On trendy Ráday utca, I shared a truly delicious pancake with a friend in the cellar of the Berliner Pub. We ended an excellent meal with a plate of Gundel palacsinta and two spoons. I’m not sure if it was the rum-soaked filling or the incredibly rich dark chocolate sauce, but these indulgent pancakes made me swoon. For half the price of the same dish at Gundel’s Étterem, these are much better value-for-money and there’s no need to comb your hair and shine your shoes before you go in.
cakes, cherry, eating, food, gundel, gundle, hungary, pan, pancake, pancakes
Lucy F.


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