Sick at the Same Time – Adventures in Hungary

Well, we’re in Hungary!

After 10 hours of flying, 12 hours of train-riding and a few days spent in Budapest, Zsolt and I have finally arrived in the beautiful Pecs. So be prepared, because the next little while on Bumpyboobs is basically guaranteed to be adventures in Hungary-land (i.e. Magyorszag if you want to say that in Hungarian).

Our first adventure in this country of fruit, paprika, barking dogs, salami, red roofs and a language that continues to baffles me:

Catherine and Zsolt’s totally awesome adventures of getting SICK!!

soupWe’ve never been sick at the same time before, and I have to admit, we handled it rather differently. Zsolt was cheery as anything. I was full of WTF!! anger, at least on the first day when I felt like a heavily congested achy grumpy zombie lady.

I ought not to go into specifics. . . but I will just a little. Ever since chemotherapy (I don’t like how often that line reappears in my stories), I’ve been avoiding getting sick. My mantra is “Happy, Healthy and Cancer-Free.” Though lately I try and remove cancer from the equation entirely, and just say, “Healthy & Happy.” Therefore, this means keeping a minimum two or three meter distance from sick people – and running away as soon as possible, not touching anyone who is sick, not using the same cutlery or food, and just NOT getting sick. Because sick reminds me of being sick. And I never want to be that sick again.

So I was rather pissed when I caught this cold. But it’s only a cold, and I was being stupid. However, no matter how logical my brain was in saying that, my emotions were throwing me all over the place and were desperate to lay blame, and simply not-feel-this-way-anymore.

Zsolt, meanwhile, was sipping his tea and wearing his comfortable clothes, and enjoying this little reprieve from the business of life. He says to me, “We’re sick at the same time!” like it’s cause for celebration.

So I decided to try and lighten up. These stupid colds are going to happen in life. And when I’m a mother, I reckon it may become inevitable. Holding so much deep rooted anger toward illness isn’t going to do me or my body any favours.  It’s my personal take-away: I need to address this source of anger.

But in the meanwhile, we’ve been eating meat soup, which is really chicken soup. Oh my God it is delicious. Zsolt’s mom puts all kinds of vegetables into the broth (e.g. carrots, radishes, broccoli, potato, brussels sprouts, turnips, garlic, onions, etc.) along with the chicken, and then she strains everything out so what’s left is this golden tasty broth that might of well have descended from heaven.

This has been our medicine for the past three days, and it’s basically all I’ve eaten (chicken and veg bits thrown in).

I’ll tell you what, when the body is feeling down, there’s nothing better than chicken soup. Actually, yes there is! Chicken soup that I didn’t need to make for myself. Add some paprika potato chips to that arrangement and you’ve achieved perfection.

Anyhow, this is really just the first adventure. And while it might not be a typical travel-log experience, it was actually quite revealing for me. I still have no interest in voluntarily getting sick, or ever getting sick, but it would be good not to get so angry about life’s small & inconsequential bumps.

Interesting Magyar (Hungarian) Fact:

It is chive season in Hungary at the moment. People are allowed to pick the chives (cut the chives?) from the forest since it grows there all over. However, each citizen is restricted to 2kg of chives.

Now, isn’t that interesting?

One of my favourite things about Hungary (yeah, I might be saying that often), is that the year revolves around a calendar of food and/or occasions that honour that food. Some day I’d like to make a calendar of all these lovely seasons, just for my own pleasure. Forget the months and the days – live by the seasons. 🙂

And that’s all I got for today! See you later 🙂


Five Little Thoughts on Random Life

Here is what I’m thinking about today:

I am thinking about Jasper, Alberta and a small bit of pathway that winds behind some of the homes of the tiny town. We’re walk along this black path at night after the bars closed, (we as in me and my friends, we were Tram Kids – working for the summer at the Jasper Tramway) on the way back to the giant house where many of us lived. It was completely unlit, and I’d have to trust my memory of having walked that path a hundred times before during the day as we took the shortcut to our home.

Jasper, just so you know, is a town inside of a National Park. That means animals cannot be hunted here, and it’s perfectly normal for elk to roam around the streets and chew on people’s lawns. It’s also not unheard of for other wild animals to find their way into the suburban streets, parks and pathways. A small part of me always wondered if there was a bear in the shadows as I walked back home, though a larger part of me just wanted to go to bed.

Anyhow one night as we were coming home, we stopped in this black pathway area and lay on the ground. All of us were tired, sweaty from dancing and high on being young. But, knowing there were meant to be shooting stars, we lay on the grass beside the path and looked up into space – big, black, never-ending space. One after another we spotted shooting stars, clusters of shooting stars, herds of shooting stars. If there was ever a night to make a wish, that had to be it. I cannot remember what I might have wanted, but I think on that evening with my friends on the damp grass along the path,  I had pretty much everything I could ever wish for.

. . .

Except for Zsolt, but I didn’t know to wish for him back then. And that’s another story.


I am thinking about how difficult it must be for small businesses, particularly restaurants that can’t afford to set up in the trendier parts of town. There are some really nice, cheap and cheerful venues around Vanier – unexpected compositions of flavour at reasonable prices. And yet the seats are empty. This afternoon I attempted to go to Golden India for their lunch buffed having heard their food is excellent but the restaurant is struggling, and somehow instead ended up at a place called El Tucan, which was also rather nice. The food was comforting, and the atmosphere had  South American flare thanks to the 70s South American film playing over the speakers and on the television by the bar, and a lovely lady . . . possibly from El Salvador (just a guess since the restaurant had Salvadorian food), helping us with our meal choices. It wasn’t as cheap as the Snack Shack, but she was most certainly cheerful.

These little places have so much heart poured into them. It must take heaps of courage to start a restaurant and say: “I don’t care about the failure rate for restaurants, I’m starting up (insert restaurant name here) and it’s going to be incredible!”

A highlight of this particular restaurant, apart from their really yummy spicy jalapeno sauce, were the drinks. I had a cashew nut fruit drink, which started off nutty and then switched to floral sweetness. Zsolt had a sweet and sour drink, which (can you guess?) started off sweet and then moved to sour. We were impressed.

After the meal we walked just a little bit along Montreal road and looked through the windows of all the small restaurants. So many small restaurants, so much competition, and so many empty seats. . .


I am thinking that grammar is one tricky b*ch. There are so many rules, and it changes depending upon location and organization . . . Zsolt and I keep getting into confusing disagreements whenever he asks me the random English language question. Like why are ‘pants’ considered plural? How do you shorten a quote? Is it that or which? And you know what – I hardly ever know the correct answer.

Forget the MLA handbook or Harvard guide to whatever. Lately I go to or the Grammarist, or just plain GOOGLE the phrase to see the debate of its usage. And there’s always debate. I know of only one woman in this entire world who may have a handle on all these rules, but she’s particularly brilliant with this stuff and far above normal human capacity regarding theory around language. She’s like the Super Woman of Grammar.


I am thinking we don’t have enough candles. The lights just flickered here in Ottawa; we have a total of one Glade scented candle, and I’m guessing its little light wouldn’t be enough to sustain us for an evening. Hmm. Isn’t that doom day soon approaching? But then, what good would a few candles do if the whole world went kaput?


I am thinking that I need to make dinner, and yet have no clue what to serve. This is a daily occurrence. 😉

P.S. TONIGHT is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at the NAC. Awesomeness wrapped in petticoats!

Vanier Snack Shack – Poutinized!

This evening, I ate a cheese-stringy, gravy covered, steaming hot bite of the neighbourhood at The Casse-Croute Vanier Snack-Shack. That’s right, we poutinized our evening and discovered another charming go-to destination amongst the streets of our new home. (And I watched a networking/marketing master at work – talk about having people invest in your business . . . oh my goodness, it was fantastic.)

Here’s the thing about Vanier that’s awesome, and what I never really anticipated before moving here. This area of Ottawa has a whole lot of community sunk right down deep into its streets, venues, and parks. And bit by bit – through the neighbours Zsolt gets chummy with, the fellow who bikes around with his trailer and waves hello, the dad who plays with his daughter every morning outside, the house that’s covered in ornaments, the park that hosts a spring-time sugar shack, and now our night excursion to the snack shack – we are learning more and more about this community.

I’m going to tell you about this Vanier Snack Shack right now, because I feel like it’s only right. You’ll see why in just a second.

Okay, this evening I had planned on baking salmon (still marinating and raw in the fridge at this moment) to eat along with the Naosap Harvest wild rice I was given at the Shesconnected conference this past weekend. Very healthy, no? Yes. But through a combination of feeling damn lazy, a wee bit discouraged from an unexpected bill (can you say, “whoops, I spent how much?!”), and being about a day away from my period – I was like, screw the salmon! I want to visit that remote snack house we noticed the other day by chance.

Zsolt wisely consented.

So we were off! Walking along the dark streets of the neighbourhood, we pass through an empty lot and approach the snack shack. Thankfully it’s open (we’ve tried to visit before and failed), which I can tell because there’s light coming from inside and there are little Christmas lights around the doorway and window.

In we go!

First impression: Inviting. There are little neon coloured poster boards all over and in different sizes advertising various food deals – two steamed hotdogs and small fries for 3 bucks, something called a bacon cheese hotdog, a variety of burger sizes, a poster for an American hotdog (?), an arrangement of styrofoam containers up on the wall with different prices, situated above a chest-high wooden counter, behind which is the kitchen, a fellow in an apron, a young lady looking on, and the owner – Serge.

And here’s why I think I have to write about this restaurant. (Not including the fact that Zsolt has labelled this his favourite poutine so far in Canada, citing the “harmonious mix” between the cheese, gravy and fries.) We were given such a warm welcome. Serge asked me firstly whether I was French, because I had a French sounding accent . . .I blame this on the word ‘poutine’, which I happen to say in a way that’s rather French. If ‘poutine’ and ‘croissant’ were the only two words I ever needed to say in French, I could be mistaken for a native speaker. . . anyhow, he then asked if we were new to the neighbourhood, advised us to buy property as Vanier is about to boom, talked with Zsolt about his new patent job & the office move, let us know there’s tons of art and music festivals in this area and we’re welcome to contribute if we have any ideas, and gave us a tour of his entire menu. All the while the young lady was trying to get our order, bue Serge wouldn’t stop telling us all about the area and his snack shack.

We did eventually get a big poutine. Not the biggest poutine, but a fairly large one nevertheless. Before leaving he gave us his card, and said he was looking into the facebook thing but never had any time for it. I’m not surprised. This fellow strikes me as sunk into his community and his restaurant. He’s organizing festivals, recruiting whoever walks through the door, and running what seems to me a successful small business. So no, he’s not online as of yet, but you can find ratings for the Vanier Snack Shack at – which he asked me to visit and rate, if I was so inclined.

So, are we going to go back? Duh. He made us feel like part of the community – he welcomed us to Vanier, and his long-waiting-customer-behind-us (apparently they are old friends) welcomed us to Vanier too; from now on, going to the Snack Shack will never just be about a harmonious poutine, it is  about being part of the neighbourhood. (But of course, the yummy food  also matters!) Brilliant welcoming – brilliant marketing – and just plain brilliant poutine.

Bonne Appetite! And yes, I am glad we moved to Vanier. 😉

P.S. I loved the huge helping of cheese curds. If you have poutine without the curds, you are missing out!
Vanier Snack Shack on Urbanspoon