The stripping princess – What is a hungarikum?

Every country has its own traditional products and other symbols it is identified with.Naturally, this is very much related to the public image of the country so it is more a question of what each nation wants to be known by. In the case of Hungary, these symbolic products go by the name of hungarikum. Since there is no official list of hungarikums, the below list is a highly personal top five.

Puli: What is a puli? It’s a unique-looking Hungarian dog. While I admit it made the list because of its cuteness, it is actually more than just a pet. Pulis are traditionally herding dogs. They also have other benefits. Animal Planet’s Dogs 101 featured a lady whose white puli regularly gave customers a good scare at her knitting shop: ‘Look, that ball of wool has just moved!’

Herend Porcelain: Are you standing at Budapest Airport desperately looking for last-minute souvenirs? Why not pick up a nice china pot? I have never quite understood how anyone can choose to carry something so breakable (and heavy!) on the plane, but once you get over that difficulty, Herend Porcelain really is a unique gift. As a bonus, you would be in good company to choose Herend Porcelain; after all, Lady Diana was a collector of Herend fishnet figurines.

Hungarian Folk Tales: Granted, these are the least tangible items of my list but they are worth mentioning for being such an unavoidable part of our childhood (‘featuring’ the glass mountain, the short-tailed pig and Ilona the Fair). As for the international reputation: A few years ago, a Romanian television received a warning for showing an indecent Hungarian folktale (a cartoon) in which a princess strips naked in front of a farmer in exchange for some dancing piglets. Needless to say, my children will just have to survive such indecency.

Rubik’s Cube: This is something I must brag about despite the fact that I have never once solved the puzzle myself. It is a 1974 invention by Erno Rubik. If you have no idea what I am talking about, just look up the term on YouTube, and you are guaranteed to find some how-to videos.

Túró Rudi (chocolate bar): Since most people would fill this list with food (and beverages!), I feel obliged to include at least one edible thing. Túró Rudi translates as Rudolph Cottage Cheese and -despite the cottage cheese filling- it is sweet. While I honestly think it is delicious, I actually found it on a list of the most disgusting types of candy ever made. Well, to each his own.

What would you include on a similar list about your country? What would be your top five?


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