February 18th, 2013

In Hungary’s growing taste for local pig, a hint of nationalism

The embrace of the local is a phenomenon familiar to foodies from San Francisco to Copenhagen. Yet in Hungary, where nationalism is on the rise, the trend has a particular resonance. Re-elected in 2010 after eight years in the opposition, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has promoted a protectionist economic agenda that has included imposing extra taxes on foreign corporations and banks. His government has also designed legislation that will prevent arable land in Hungary from being sold to foreigners. Inaugurating a dairy farm in October, he said that the love of the soil “is in Hungarians’ genes” and that the new legislation will make Hungarians “landowners rather than tourists in our own country.” That kind of rhetoric has led many critics inside and outside Hungary to label him a populist and a nationalist.

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  • szebbjovot

    So now we can’t like our own food products without being labeled as nationalist, fascist, neo-nazi?

    • Vidra

      Uncle Erik knows that any story with a nationalist angle will get well over 50 comments on here, compared to an average of maybe 10 for other stories.

    • Aloof

      You can start by thanking Juan Vicente Olmos of Spain rescuing them from going extinct. Gorge yourself if you can afford it… when is the last time YOU ate Mangalista/Mangalica? Fabulous flavor and they’re cute too!
      Even fascists and Nazis gotta eat…

    • Flyover099

      Because the food is not kosher – it needs a “k” on label so the global kosha-nostra can extort money from growers/mfr.

  • stanlee98

    I personally don’t like Mangalica. It’s a big hairy piece of fat.
    I wish Hungary would support the production of high quality beef.
    I haven’t seen a decent t-bone steak in ages (since I returned from New York that is).

    • Aloof

      Go to La Pampa steakhouse 1065
      Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 21.. You’ll find the best steaks in the country there. You can also import great beef via the Culinaris 1055 Budapest, Balassi Bálint u. 7.

      • stanlee98

        Thanks for the steakhouse recommendation. I will definitely check it out.

    • Curious George

      Well maybe you should get in touch with Mihaly Zichy, if he ever got it off the ground http://www.chew.hu/say_hello_to_the_magyar_wagyu/

      If I remember correctly, Stan claimed to have real world experience with driving cabs, producing theatre, running a million dollar IT business & rearing pigs. If you think Hungary should produce high quality beef, you would be in good steed to do something in Hungary (what with your NY experience and all). I don’t know if FL’s offer (last on that thread) is still valid, but it’s worth giving it a shot.

      • Curious George
      • stanlee98

        Well, it may take a long time before Zichy’s overpriced beef hits the market, (with or without my support) and I doubt it will be very popular among low and middle income families. Most of it may get exported anyway.
        I would settle with USDA choice quality cuts in the supermarket near my house.


        And nice, thin-sliced roast beef in the deli section. Unfortunately “thin” usually means 3mm thick, disgusting pre-sliced cold cuts here.
        Back in the good old days cold cuts were delicious, ham tasted like ham,
        Pick salami didn’t sweat in the fridge, and 10Ft bought you a pound of pretty decent sausage.
        I don’t miss the Kadar regime, it forced me into exile, but compared to today’s regime, Goulash Communism had its advantages, food used to be a lot better, and I could manage (through my connections) to get some prime cuts of beef. Where’s the beef now?

  • stanlee98

    “nationalism is on the rise”
    Good one. Let’s call Hungarians who love their country “nazis”.
    People in other countries, with much stronger feelings are only “patriots”.
    “We are number one” is cool in the USA.
    “Israel belongs to Jews” is acceptable for Israel.
    If not selling out all of our few remaining assets makes us nazis, so be it.
    Let’s buy up Israel. See how it goes, before we allow Israeli “investors” to buy up Hungary.

  • wolfi

    Re rearing pigs:
    At least here in our village near Hévíz (and the town itself of course) it’s forbidden to have pigs !
    Afaik, in Hévíz even hens are forbidden …

  • Pete H.

    Although extreme-right wing nationalism is a problem in Hungary, linking it to raising pigs is complete nonsense. Restoring diversity to agricultural crops and livestock is not a political issue.

  • Paul

    Hungarian filmmaker fears for his children


    Hungarian Jews are fearful of how openly antisemitic and xenophobic their politicians and non-Jewish countrymen are becoming.

    Some are even declaring their fear that the EU state is on the path toward an ultra-nationalistic regime bent on persecuting Jews and Roma, not unlike Germany in the early-to-mid 1930s.

    “ultra-nationalistic regime bent on persecuting Jews and Roma” is the problem here…not local pigs.

    • Americanian

      Hi Paul,

      Though I really have a lot of disgust for many Fidesz policies, I do not find the party or its members anti-Semitic. In fact, I would say with a small amount of confidence that some of them find the antisemitism shameful. That said, not all of them get press coverage when they have something to say.

      I do, however, feel that they would rather not deal with the issue until forced by outrage to do so. There is far too much corrupt power-consolidation to tend to. All of the non-monetary politics and the rigors of social responsibility and international norms are probably a bit out of their bailiwick.

      Back to the other pigs. They are so cute in those videos where there is some kind of shepherd tending them as they roam free in the hills. Propaganda, of course… but great propaganda!

    • szebbjovot

      At the EuroChallange Cup basketball match between “Szolnok Olaj” and the
      Israeli “Hapoel Holon” in Szolnok on Tuesday organizers didn’t let fans
      carrying Hungarian flags entering the sport center.

      Apparently, the request of the ban came from the Israeli team and
      organizers of the game slavishly complied with the request even without
      questioning the reason behind it.

      Besides the Hungarian flag, the Székely flag and the use of banners were also outlawed during the match.

      When it became clear that organizers were not joking fans left the sport center and boycotted the game.

      What kind of world are we living in when a foreign country can outlaw
      the national flag of the host nation? This is really humiliating. Do
      organizers realize that this is our country and not an “earth pile” that
      foreigners can use the way they want it said the fans after leaving the
      sport center.

      Outlawing the national flag in a sport event is unprecedented by any
      standard; it can never happen for instance, at Ajax Amsterdam soccer
      games where more Israeli flags can be seen than the actual symbols of
      the soccer club said the fans.

      And what was the justification behind the unprecedented police presence,
      which was conspicuous both in and around the sport center, but officers
      also mingled with spectators in the viewing area; even a 50 member swat
      team was deployed while the Israeli security chief constantly watched
      the spectators.

      Due to the extraordinary security measures and the fact that hardcore
      fans boycotted the match, the sport event completely lost its festive

      By the way, the Hungarian basketball team won Tuesday’s EuroChallange
      Cup game against Israeli “Hapoel Holon” by a score of 81-66.

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