The Market

A friendly woman with her sauerkraut.

I’ve noticed that we go through an interesting process of knowledge acquisition where we think we’ve figured something out, only to learn later that we didn’t quite have it right, and the market is a good example of what I mean.  The night we first arrived in Pecs, we found a very small 24-hour food store, sort of a pantry almost, a minute’s walk away from our apartment.  It has bread, pasta, a few fresh and canned vegetables, pastries, salamis, cold drinks, beer/wine and probably cigarettes, cigars and the like.  I thought, “Okay, we’ve found the food – we’ll be okay.”  The next day we stumbled upon a place called the “Konzum,” which is home to a smallish grocery store called “Coop” — sort of like a Wesselman’s to our friends in Evansville.  And I thought, “Okay, we found the real grocery store – the place were Hungarians buy their groceries.”  Then, while looking for clothes hangers, I went to a dry cleaners in the “Arkad” (the big shopping mall toward the south end of the city center) where I was told to go to the InterSpar on the lower level of the mall.  The InterSpar is like a giant Target/Walmart — grocery store, liquor store, household goods, clothes, etc., all under one roof.  You can buy an onion and an oven on the same trip.  It has a huge selection of fresh bread and a decent sized produce section, and I thought, “Yes, THIS must be where the locals buy everything.”  This new information was good for about a week, until an English-speaking colleague of Margaret’s offered to escort us to the indoor market, which, we learned, is the place the locals really buy their produce.  It’s in a relatively non-descript building across the street from the mall – and we probably never would have entered if Gabi hadn’t taken us.

Here are some pix (remember, you can click on the image to see a higher-res version):

This is a partial view of the market. It was rainy and gloomy both times I've been here, so I'm assuming that it would be brighter on sunny days -- there are large windows in the roof.

It’s really a kind of farmer’s market that’s open 6 days a week, from early in the morning until about 1 pm, I think.   Everything is brought in directly from the farms, sold by the people who grew or raised it (I’m assuming) and it’s one of the most amazing collections of  fresh food-stuffs and people I’ve ever seen.

Making the sauerkraut (not sure what the Hungarian word for it is -- essentially pickled cabbage). There are about 6-8 of what look like little sauerkraut booths, each with a woman preparing some variation of the stuff in giant bowls.

Sampling her kraut.

The peppers are amazing.

Here's a pic of pickled peppers (along with cabbage and other pickled vegs). Everything in here is pickled.

I have enough pepper pix to create a pepper gallery.

I think my favorite section is the mushrooms. According to Gabi, each seller has to have some sort of certificate guaranteeing the safety of their mushrooms. These folks were the least receptive to a guy taking photos - the woman in the red sweater (and short skirt and fishnets that you can't see) said "nem photography" when I got a little too close. We did buy some mushrooms with Gabi's help last week, and I made a mushroom pasta dish with a recipe from Gabi. It was delicious, but when Margaret went to bed, the room started spinning. We'll have to check that vendor's certificate.

More shrooms.

A friendly mushroom vendor.

Another mushroom vender, who's selling a few eggs, too...

There’s a section of cooked foods in the market where you will find, amongst other things, fried sausage venders.  I was there at 8:00 am, and people were happily eating breakfasts of giant sausages, bread and mustard.  The week before, when we were there with Gabi, I asked her what she would recommend from the prepared food sections and she said, “nothing.”  She was there for the fresh produce and eggs.  “You are what you eat,” she said.  Me? Sometimes, I don’t mind being a sausage for a few hours.

Breakfast. That's a deep-fryer in the middle of those sausages.

An interesting take on the hotdog - I wonder if the name has anything to do with the Popeye character, Wimpy (though I think he favored hamburgers).

There's a row for smoked/cured meats - pork, mostly -- salamis and slabs of bacon.

There are long rows of flowers -- so many in fact, that it can be overwhelming, as is evidenced by the exhausted expression on this woman's face.

More flowers...

Cabbages.

And finally, the one thing you will likely NEVER find in a US market… “homemade” milk.   I’m pretty sure that it’s conventional cow’s milk sold in used/recycled water and soda bottles.    I walked past this table 2 or 3 times and never saw anyone buying.  Not sure if it’s considered safe or not.

Homemade milk and cheese.

Last word on the market:  As much as I like the idea of buying all our produce at the market, it’s exhausting for a non-Hungarian speaker because everything you want to buy involves a transaction, and not many people at the market speak English.  Eventually you can get what you need, but it’s not easy, and sometimes I’m reduced to holding out a handful of coins and letting the vendor take what they need.  Whereas at the InterSpar, you can fill up your cart and leave without saying anything more than “good afternoon” and “goodbye’ to the cashier.  That said, we’ve had great luck with apples, mushrooms, eggs, grapes and cheese from the market.  Margaret will probably have more to say about the Cheese Man – he and his brother make the cheese from their own cows, and he speaks English.

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About patster66

I'm visiting Pécs, Hungary with my wife and son for the Fall 2010 semester. My wife, Margaret McMullan, received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and do research at the University of Pécs. My 13 year old son is attending a semi-bilingual school here called the ANK where I am teaching English Language and Drama to 4th - 8th graders 2 days a week.
This entry was posted in Food, Life in Pécs. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Market

  1. Kathy M says:

    Pat’s pics of pickled pepper’s left me smiling as I ate my cereal and blueberries (from the the Bridgeport Farmer’s Market in the Grandstand parking lot) before I left for school. It was a great way to start the week off. Hope you are all fine after the shrooms.

  2. Scott Saalman says:

    Pat — you are doing a great job with the Posts and Photos. Very professionally done.

  3. jamesy says:

    The fishnet lady was merely protesting the pic of pickled peppers pleasant Patster popped…. or something like that. Probably easier to say that in Hungarian. After a big bowl of magic mushrooms and unpasteurized milk!

  4. Peter de Janosi says:

    A few months in Pecs, and your doctor in Evansville will put all of you on a low fat, all fish diet!!!! I look forward to visiting the market, but I take Lipitor!!!! Peter

  5. Matt Wagner says:

    Just now seeing this post and it’s KILLING me that I cant be there. That place is amazing! Why is it that Americans have lost touch with this kind of connection to our food? Thanks for letting me live vicariously.

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