Friday, September 08, 2006

Mako Onion Festival

Today, Friday, we attended the Mako Onion Festival. It started early in the morning with a presentation of the flags and a procession (parade). We participated in the procession and then the opening ceremonies. This was followed by the official measurement of the longest braid of garlic in the world. They believe that they qualified for the Guiness World Record. These activities took place in the beautiful town center. Mako just recently won an international bronze medal for the quality of their floral decorations around the town.

We drove by car to the festival grounds where the formal welcome to festival-goers and presentation of awards took place. The Hungarian Minister of Agriculture was present to help with the official welcomes. Mako’s primary products are onions and garlic. They grow an excellent product but do not market it well. Since Hungary’s now a part of the EU, they are beginning to develop marketing plans for selling their onions and garlic throughout Europe. This was part of the Minister’s opening remarks.

We had some time to walk through the festival grounds. For a comparison, it was about the same size as the Birmingham Festival in terms of displays and number of booths. I bought a bottle of Hungarian wine, sampled plum and pumpkin jam, bought some homemade candy for my niece and nephew and saw demonstrations of zithers, gingerbread decorations and lace making/embroidery.

It was then time for lunch. They cook, in a big cauldron over an open wood fire, goulyash – a stew with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions and a small dumpling…and lots of paprika. It’s ladled into large bowls which are then placed evenly along pre-set picnic tables. The tables have water, beer and plastic cups, spoons and a very large bread roll wrapped in a napkin and placed in the individual bowl. You go in the tent, sit down and help yourself to the stew. Refills are plentiful and for dessert there was an apple square whose filling was similar to an apple pie.

Tomorrow we attend another festival in a smaller village – this is where various mayors have a cooking competition. Seems like a lot of what we do centers around food – imagine that!

Here are photos from the Onion Festival – enjoy!

Kindergarteners getting ready for the festival. This class had pumpkins as its theme. The children to the left in green with a purple pincushion on their hats were chives.

The Mayor of Mako with the 'children's mayor' at the start of the procession. The young lady holds a position equivalent to our president of student council in her school. The marching band is behind them.

The gentleman sitting on the right side is braiding the garlic cloves. Streaming down the front of the table and along the ground in front of him is the garlic braid. I believe the total length was around 250 meters.

The cauldron where the stew was cooked and the chef with the empty cauldron following lunch.

An artist decorating gingerbread. She also did etched eggs and carved eggs. You can see samples of lace and embroidery on the wall behind her.

Musicians playing their hand-carved zithers. Behind them are rugs and pillows, also done by hand.

Lunch! You can see how large the bread is and the wonderful color from the paprika in the stew!


-Sepp said...

I told you you'd love it there! Take an extra 5 days and get some "cultural exchange" time on lake Balaton to ahhhhh... study... yeah study the differences in watercraft laws for sailboats. My next trip to Europe will be to visit the town in Vlasenica, Republika Srpske where I spent a year and then hit Balaton for a few days before visiting relatives in Germany. Hungary was the best overall vacation "bang for the buck" place to go.

Maggie Thurber said...

-sepp ... would love to visit Lake Balaton and sample the local wines, tour the wineries...yeah and that whole difference in watercraft laws would be a perfect excuse. Unfortunately, that will have to wait for my next trip when my husband can join me.

It's a magnificent country and wonderful people!

-Sepp said...

I'm rootin for ya to get the most out of this trip! I', sure you're having a great time but, you missed TSC's lobsterfest which is almost as fun as Hungary!

Hooda Thunkit said...

Looks like you're doing it up right Maggie, enjoy!

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