Food, glorious food.

One of the best things we got to do during our Christmas vacation in Budapest and Vienna was eat.  And drink.  Now, don’t get me wrong: Ukrainian food is delicious.  But, there’s a definite lack of ethnic variety around here.  We have pizza places, although the pizza usually consists of a thin crust topped with just the slightest hint of tomatoey sauce.  There are also sushi restaurants, although that’s a bit out of our budget.  As for alcoholic beverages, Ukraine has a variety of beers which are all pretty light and comparable to your basic Bud.  Wine either comes in the “sweet” or “half-sweet” varieties.  And, we’re not exactly the vodka-with-your-dinner type of folks.

Needless to say, after 9 months without good ethnic food, we were super excited about the opportunity to spice up our meals.  On our first night in Budapest, after finally arriving late in the midst of a snowstorm, we made it to a Middle Eastern restaurant not far from our hostel for some kind of delicious schwarma/gyro wrap.  (Not sure exactly what it was, since the menu was in Hungarian.)  It just got better from there, and we have the photos to prove it.  Although these meals may not look special to you, step into our shoes and imagine the enjoyment our taste buds got from a little change of scene.

Let it be said, however, that living for so long with Ukrainian food does leave an impact.  When we finally had some famous wiener schnitzel (veal/pork/chicken pounded flat and breaded, similar to a Ukrainian “cutleta”) at a Vienna pub, Alex’s first remark was, “I hate to say it, but I think this needs some mayonnaise.”

Hedgehog in the Fog

We had a great time tonight celebrating the New Year with my counterpart Olha, Emma’s director (Olha’s father), and their family.  New Year in Ukraine is roughly equivalent to our Christmas – it’s a big family holiday with lots of traditions.  So we were honored to be invited to prazdnovat (праздновать) with some of our favorite Ukrainians.

Now, as a New Year’s gift, I give you this wonderful multfilm (cartoon) classic called Yozhik v Tumanne (Ёжик в тумане) or Hedgehog in the Fog.  Ukrainians and Russians seem to love hedgehogs.  Make sure you click the second button from the bottom right and watch it fullscreen to immerse yourself in the fog with the yozhik.  Happy New Year!