Saturday, June 26, 2004

Don’t Drink the Palinka

We were treated to a wine-tasting event, in the wine cellar down the block from our guest house. It began with shots of the Hungarian fire-water, palinka. Unfortunately, in addition to being powerfully strong alcohol, palinka also has a very pleasant aftertaste. It comes in all sorts of fruit flavors (even, according to Peter, a paprika flavor – although “paprika” in Hungary means any kind of pepper, so it’s hard to tell what that means). We’ve had pear and peach, and I think the stuff at the wine tasting was pear.

We were taught to toast in Hungarian. You say “Egeszsegere”, look your friend in the eyes, and drink your palinka in one swig. It means “to your health”, but there is a way of mispronouncing it, that makes it mean something like “to your ass.” Marta didn’t want to tell us the mispronunciation, because she was afraid we’d learn it the wrong way, which mostly meant that I was afraid I was somehow innately using the wrong pronunciation anyway. Fear that my failure to pronounce something correctly will create an obscene word is only one of many reasons I’m such a language wimp.

So, we practiced our toasting and our pronunciation on five different kinds of wine, getting more and more unruly as the wine tasting continued. It became difficult for us to stand quietly and listen to the Hungarian description of the wine and then wait for Marta’s translation. We were too busy getting ready to toast each others’ health (or ass) with the next kind of wine.

Then, already tipsy, we headed back to the bar attached to the restaurant, and ordered our own bottle of palinka. I had one shot, and then escaped outside to avoid any more, and to talk to Peter, who was smoking. I was enjoying flirting with Peter, who is getting married in late July, so combines unavailability with his other charms of competence and confidence. Yeah, and an easy smile and a willingness to flirt back just a little bit. By that point, my palinka goggles were pretty firmly in place anyway, so I’m sure a little flirting went a long way with me.

Palinka goggles Posted by Hello

The last wall to go up - after I returned to work Posted by Hello

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