Édes in the Streets, Csípős in the Sheets

Paprika, British Tastes, and the Self-Tempering of Hungarian Spiciness, 1920–1940





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. behrendta@mst.edu

Author Biography

Andrew Behrendt, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Andrew Behrendt, PhD, is assistant teaching professor of history at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He was previously academic advisor at the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and program coordinator/NewsNet editor for the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES). Behrendt is a historian of European culture and society who works primarily on Hungary, Austria, and the greater Habsburg world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but his research interests extend more broadly into the fields of travel, cinema, the construction of place, national/regional/ethnic identity construction, media cultures, and beyond.


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