I would like to thank the people of the Netherlands. They have many great aspects including, but not limited to: Heineken, orange soccer uniforms, close proximity to Belgium, windmills, close proximity to Belgium’s beers, and tons of smiling people on bicycles. However, none of these are why I am so happy with them.
It’s because of their kindness. They are kind enough to have spread their Spar grocery store throughout Hungary. This, in itself, doesn’t sound that kind. It is, though, because it brought a sort of missing link back into my life.
I’m obviously talking about chips and salsa.
Chips and salsa is one of my favorite snacks, and it’s something I used to eat all of the time. I always knew I could pull the salsa jar out of the refrigerator any time of the day or night. The salty, crispy tortilla chips would then be furiously dipped into it and shoveled into my mouth. It was glorious.
However, since arriving in Hungary, this tradition has ceased to exist. Tortilla chips are rare and salsa is virtually unheard of. I did find it in the international food aisle at the British owned Tesco, and I was very excited to see that my fellow English speakers had my back.
Unfortunately, this joy was short lived because were a lot of numbers in the price. Far too many zeros for me to risk buying a food that is frighteningly misunderstood in this neck of the woods. What if I paid the high price and it turned out to be ketchup? That would be like a French person seeing a bottle of California wine labeled as Champagne. The only difference is that the French guy would still get to drink a good bottle of wine. I’d just have gross ketchup.
Yesterday, I was shopping in the Spar at the local mall, the Csaba Center. Not only does it occasionally have ground beef for sale, but it’s open on the weekends – until 8 and 6 PM. The other grocery stores don’t usually have any beef, they close much earlier on Saturdays, and they don’t even bother opening on Sundays.
This Saturday evening is when I discovered the salsa.
m not sure whose idea it was to place it as the first thing in the aisle, but that person should get a promotion and a raise. If it’s an attractive woman, and she’s reading this, I’d like to ask her to send me an e-mail so I can take her out to dinner. Perhaps we can find a Mexican restaurant.
This is getting off topic. There were three types of salsa on the shelf. I was very, very worried because it was actually called “Salsa Sauce” – this is sort of like seeing a bottle of water that’s labeled “Water Drink”. If it’s that specific, is it really salsa? Maybe it’s just something that’s pretending to be salsa. I had to know.
It was next to the tortilla chips of which there were three flavors: Natural, Nacho Cheese, and Spicy Pepper (not sure about this third one, it was something like this). Natural seemed like the best choice. I threw them in my basket and practically ran to the check-out. A strange feeling had come over me, it was as if this was a meant for a different person, like a king, and the store people would take it away if they knew I had it.
I should mention that both the chips and salsa were Spar brand. That’s slightly important to explain how nervous I was. I ate at a Mexican restaurant in Amsterdam one time, and it was pretty awful.
Most people don’t jog home from the grocery store, but most people didn’t just buy their first chips and salsa in Hungary. Even though I was about to go out for a filling Hungarian meal, I had to know what they tasted like. I ripped them open, dipped in a chip, tossed it in my mouth, and it was…
It was sort of…
I don’t know how to explain it…
There’s probably a good word, but I can’t think of it. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being incredible), I’d give it a 5. This increases to a 7 or 8 because of the lack of competition.
I bought the Hot flavor, and it does have some spice to it. It’s fairly thick (which I like) and it has chunks of peppers and things in it. The biggest problem is that it’s sweet. I don’t like sweet salsa. Someone probably does, but that person isn’t here right now.
The chips are too thick, but they hold the salsa and that’s as much as I can ask for.
This wasn’t the highlight of my weekend, but it was close. You must remember that it’s the little things that keep you happy in life. To that end, I’m going to go eat a few chips and visit the Spar before it closes. I wonder what other amazing secrets my Dutch friends have hidden in there.
Hungarian word of the day:
It’s pretty self-explanatory what country this is the name of. I want to go visit Belgium and it’s beers again soon, and while I’m there I think I’ll pop up to Holland and thank them in person. It’s the least I can do.