Édes in the Streets, Csípős in the Sheets
Paprika, British Tastes, and the Self-Tempering of Hungarian Spiciness, 1920–1940
Keywords:tourism, paprika, cuisine, national identity, Britain, cultural history
British tourists played an oversized part in the imaginations of interwar Hungarian tourism promoters. Despite arriving in comparatively low numbers, they fell into a circle of privileged foreigners. When it came to tallying successes in attracting visitors from abroad, Anglophone tourists were “golden pheasants”: rich, glamorous, and willing to part with their precious currency—as long as they were courted in the right way. One of those ways was to manage British expectations when it came to Hungarian cuisine. Paprika was a particular cause for concern. With a reputation for intense spiciness, some tourism promoters worried that it would shock the mild Anglophone palate and attempted to reassure potential guests that Hungary would (literally) be to their taste. Yet their concern was largely unrequited. Why? My article investigates this mystery, and with it, explores the role of paprika both in promoting tourism to Hungary and in the broader management of national “branding” for foreign consumption in the uneasy postimperial cultural atmosphere. Drawing on guidebooks, travelogues, advertisements, periodicals, and films, it argues that the spice served as a symbolic marker of confidence (or lack thereof) in Hungary’s place in global affairs. firstname.lastname@example.org
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