Food and Drink Content Collection: Hungarian Farsang and Krampampuli

In our series “Collecting Content for Europeana Food and Drink” we let you have a look into the selection process of culinary objects for Europeana.

It is carnival season and we are in Hungary, where the Europeana Food and Drink project partner MKVM – Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism in Budapest introduces us to the traditions around „Farsang” and shows us their collection highlights around this celebration.

Farsang: time for entertainment, eating and drinking

Farsang, which is the name for the carnival season in Hungary, is the period between the day of Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. It is the time for balls, entertainment and weddings among both the middle class and peasantry. A lot of customs are connected to this period but the most diverse and colourful ones can be found on the countryside. Different traditions of wearing a costume and a mask were widespread during the farsang, like funeral or wedding processions, lanceman performances, wearing animal costumes etc. These dramatic plays usually began with a procession and closed by dancing, eating and drinking. The carneval period is also a season of weddings, because there are not a lot of agricultural activities during wintertime, chambers are full with food and the new wine had matured already.

Dance card, 1908 and Poster of Cabaret Gambrinus, 1910s, via MKVM
Dance card, 1908 and Poster of Cabaret Gambrinus, 1910s, via MKVM
… on the Countryside and in the City

Peasants wished to ensure rich harvest by different magic actions like cooking long pasta in the soup to make hemp grow high next year. In peasant culture, carnival season is closed by Fat Thursday (following Ash Wednesday), when fasting is suspended for one day to scarf out before the long Lent.

In the city, traditions related to farsang are less diverse, but the habit of wearing a mask or a costume at balls is present in the civic culture as well. Farsang is the season of great balls held at private houses, public ballrooms or hotels. At balls not only dancing but eating and drinking well were also important. The dance card from 1908 which is shown above was given out for a big carnival celebration and includes the list of different dances before and after midnight.

Krampampuli – Drink of the devil

Krampampuli is an alcoholic drink for the winter that has been quite popular in the Hungarian middle class since the reform era (1825-1848). It was consumed at cafés and at home during celebrations, especially on New Year’s Eve and during the carnival season.

Krampampuli glass and Poster of Törley, the biggest Hungarian champagne factory, 1910s (CC BY NC SA) via MKVM
Krampampuli glass and Poster of Törley, the biggest Hungarian champagne factory, 1910s (CC BY NC SA) via MKVM

This drink, which is also called the “drink of the devil”, is prepared from a special palinka, which is a Hungarian fruit brandy, made of grapes. There has to be a grate placed over the drink, onto which sugar soaked in rum is put. The rum is set on fire and the melted sugar drips into the alcohol. Also some seasoning (cinnamon and clove) as well as dried fruits (sultanas, raisins, figs, dates and orange peels) are added to this drink. There are some recipes in which this very sweet, seasoned alcoholic beverage is mixed with boiled wine, tea, lemon and orange juice.

This devilish mixture – when it’s burning at its highest – is given out with a big soup-dipper hot and flaming.

Mór Jókai, a famous Hungarian writer of the reform era mentions this drink in his work: “It was coming to midnight. Time for a krámpámpuli. Preparing this is the duty of the host. A big tin bowl filled with grape-palinka is usually set in front of him, and all guests also receive their tin chalices. Palinka is then lit by a pipe-lighter, and the host throws yellow sugar, figs, raisins into the blue and green flames by the handful, from which red flames would skip amongst the blue ones. This is called by the Hungarians krámpámpuli. This devilish mixture – when it’s burning at its highest – is given out with a big soup-dipper hot and flaming. “

 

In part two of this post on Farsang in Hungary, we will share a special delicacy with you: Fánk, the Hungarian Doughnut. Stay tuned for the recipe!

 

By Julianna Kulich, MKVM and Angelika Leitner, ONB

About MKVM – Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism:

The museum is the only dedicated museum of travel and tourism in the world and takes its collections focus from the regions of Hungary. Founded in 1966, it started operation in the World Heritage Buda Castle, in the building of the former Fortuna Inn and is now located at Óbuda, Budapest. The museum has almost 50 years of unique expertise covering all fields of the Hungarian Food and Drink Industry, including gastronomy, catering and tourism. Collections include furniture, equipment and tools from restaurants and confectioner’s shops and a large quantity of documentary heritage including menus and menu cards as well as a significant collection of archival material and small prints.

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