Traditional wedding meal in Hungary


Traditionally in Hungary, a »best man » conducts the wedding. One of his attributions is to announce the different dishes which compose the wedding meal. He tells funny jokes and puts the guests in a good humour. 

Dinner announcement   « My dear guests, dinner is ready, I bring it immediately to the table. Anyone who doesn’t have a knife, fork, or spoon, scrape the good dish with your hand.

Our first dish will be some chicken cooking with some calf mooing. At the end, we‘ll serve some larded cart rattling. And then there will be brochettes of sickly fleas, an old hedgehog pickled in brine and instead of the roast beef, a seal pouch, and then an 300 hundred years old breaded stork.
Outside, where they are cooking, boils a big chariot wheel. I know if I bring it to you, you’ll say : « it’s very good, bon appetit !
Outside the women cooks are gossiping. They make a success of everything, better than the pastor’s wife. They know how to concoct a good dish, but they also know how to empty a jug of wine.
Gentlemen, now I’m not joking anymore. As quickly as lightning strikes, I go to the kitchen. I come back so that everybody sees me; if it’s not immediately, it’ll be on Saint Michael’s Day.
I know that everybody smiles to himself thinking I will come back without anything. But sumptuous victuail are presented on these dishes, it’s not too salty, not unseasoned, simply good. »

Compositon of the meal   One broth with « snail » noodles (csiga tészta), the name taken from their shape, meat and potato stew, roasted chicken, and finally cakes.

Stew announcement  « I bring the meat of a young animal, which had just lost its teeth some 20 years ago. It’s just 40 years old now, its poor head already fell down in the cauldron. So I ask you to begin to eat it very gallantly because it’s not always possible to cook a weak calf. « 

Roasted chicken announcement  « I also bring roasts, two kinds : a sumptuous rooster and s chicken girlfriend. But this rooster made such a stupid mistake: he has pecked the bride and made a hole in her that her groom has said he‘ll patch until their death. »

People drink wine with a special announcement.  « As you see, I think about what I have to do so that everybody feels good. I bring jugs and bottles full of good wine to the guests. Nobody has to be afraid that there’s not enough. We rolled seven big barrels. They are now empty on the ground. »

And the « houseman » (gazda) says: « whoever doesn’t drink enough will be severely punished. »

Cakes announcement  « I come back with some small cakes. They are well cooked witt sugar and honey. And most important, say how nice their color is. Everybody’ll enjoy it. »

The meal doesn’t last several hours. Tables are quickly cleared. The musicians prepare their instruments and everybody begins to dance.
One week before the meal, the « best man » has been designated, has people invited, and on this day, has asked for the bride in the house of her parents, has conducted the farewell from the bride to her family, then to the official ceremony and the religious ceremony if there is one.

End of dinner announcement  « I see that nobody is hungry anymore. So instead of eating, everybody has to amuse themselves. I’ve been chosen to bring musicians here. They are looking for music, they know good songs. They‘re going to take their bagpipes quickly if you slip them some money. »

The « best man » begins to dance with the bride and everybody joyfully joins in the dance. Later, the bride goes to change her clothes. It’s the symbol of her change in status. She has become a young married woman and the guests give some money to dance with her or with her husband, so it’s a « nest egg » for them to begin their common life.
The feast continues late. Everybody eats, dances until morning and musicians escort the last guests into the street.

These sentences have been used by a « best man » during a traditional wedding in Mikepércsi, near Debrecen, in the north-east of the great Hungarian Plain in November, 1986.