Mangalitza (a local breed of curly haired pig) is one of those products Hungarians laud as branded local "Hungaricums" within the EU, and not long ago we bought some mangalitsa pork chops to try with a friend who is a wine importer. Well... maybe it was just our pig, but the curly haired pig is bred for its fat, not for its meat. You can eat it, but... textureless, insipid, bland, entirely without character. The regular Hungarian pork that we get at any butchers is far superior for meat, so we'll be giving the curly hired pig a pass in the future.August 20 is the Hungarian National Holiday. It's a combination of holidays, actually, St. Stephen's Day, New Bread Day, and Constitution Day all rolled into one big do which culminates with fireworks over the Danube at night. The crowds along the Danube banks downtown are huge, and a couple of years ago a freak storm broke out just as the fireworks were beginning, flooding the streets, blowing giant fireworks into the city, and stampeding the crowd, causing injuries and several dead from boat accidents in the river. So, to avoid any possible apocalyptic destruction, we just biked up the street to the highway overpass here in Zugló for a clear view of the show going on downtown a few kilometers west of us.
The overpass bridge was packed with people, who had brought out lawn chairs and bowls of popcorn for the event. Cars parked along the bridge, taxis waited for fares, and lots of the local Gypsy families were out enjoying the evening - this part of Zugló is considered to be the residence area of choice for better off Roma in Budapest.There was also an air show over the Danube during the afternoon, but scandal erupted when it turned out the sponsors, the Austrian makers of the putrid Red Bull Energy Drink - a vile sugary brew that tastes like bubblegum with caffeine - had paid off the city council to cancel the usual flyover of the Hungarian Air Force. So in the morning I got to see a formation of frustrated fighter planes angrily zipping past my bedroom window.