Tag Archives: Sofia

борщ, budapest, and the berlin wall




Tonight’s menu is борщ (borsch) made like the Russian babas taught me at the dacha so many years ago. Almost every good memory of Moscow that I have, and there are a plethora, involve this Russian staple. Tonight, I am serving it to my family in Bulgarian pottery in our Hungarian home. Over the past twenty years, these three cultures have had an integral voice in who we have become and are becoming. They are a precious part of us. As each Autumn teeters on the verge of winter, we take a moment to remember the end of the Cold War. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was the beginning of our journey in eastern Europe.

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the city

I remember the first time they built a mall in Sofia.  We had already been living there for some 4 years and survived nicely without that modern, western convenience.  With the mall came Burger King, H&M, and then one happy pre-Thanksgiving Day, Starbucks!

I also remember the day we spent in Budapest on our way to Busingen Germany from Sofia.  Was it 1999?  Or the early 2000′s?  Budapest had opened one of its very first malls and the lines were ridiculous!  How could I have imagined that some ten years later, I would call this very city my home?

Today, I’m meeting a friend at one of Budapest’s many malls.  We are taking our daughters for lunch at Vapianos, a great Italian restaurant.  I have been in our little suburb of Diosd teaching all week, so I’m thrilled to be in the city, thrilled to be with my girls and with a friend, thrilled to eat great Italian food.  But, I am ever aware that the world in the Mall is not a real representation of the world to which I am called.

The economic downturn has hit Hungarians in the stomach.  Many struggle to make their paycheck stretch and yet the habits of the West that were introduced more than a decade ago mean that families are deeply in debt.  The great excitement of that first, Western mall also introduced the yoke of credit and it weighs heavily.

As I chat and eat and enjoy my day in the city, I’ll be taking photos to post later.