The Canteen


canteen1.jpgOne of the highlights of the school I worked at in Budapest was its proximity to “the canteen.” This was a nice-looking cafeteria-style restaurant where you took a tray and ordered what you wanted standing up but sat in a nicely-decorated wood-panelled area that resembled a decent sit-down restaurant. Some people even came with containers and brought food back to their office. It was cheap and so drew quite a crowd from the TEFL community as well as from nearby offices.

None of the staff really spoke English, which was fair enough given that this was Hungary and not the US or UK, but it sure made identifying the food on offer rather a challenge. I don’t personally have any issue with the point and eat method, and at the time had no particular dietary requirements, but it’s nice to have some idea what you are ordering. There were no signs, but there was one young man who seemed to have been elected as the sole staff member responsible for dealing with us teachers. If one of us had a question, he would be summoned to produce some kind of answer.

One of the specialties was vegetarian lasagna. Another was the more unusual hot fruit soup. It was okay — it seemed to be milk-based with either strawberry or raspberry flavoring. It was not a dessert. Its appeal to many of the teachers ended quickly though when one discovered meat in it; was not a vegetarian or anything, but this nonetheless came as an unpleasant surprise.

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While we then avoided the hot fruit soup, we were not about to give up the canteen — this place was a winner, and I have every intention of returning to it on subsequent Budapest trips.