Mangalica (or Mangalitsa, as they are known everywhere in the US except your local Hungarian butcher) is basically a gigantic pig with cute curly hair. And boy, are they fat. Really, really fat. Their name actually derives from the Serbo-Croation word for fat hog.
Which is also why they are so delicious. According to local foodie and author Carolyn Bánfalvi’s recent article in Saveur, “The breed nearly disappeared in the 1950s when Communist-era pig farmers turned to leaner hogs that produced larger litters. In 1991 there were just 200 Mangalicas left, but a few dedicated farmers started raising them for specialty markets, and populations have bounced back to the tune of some 50,000 last year.”
Luckily, the United States has also seen a return to the farm-raised, market fresh, Anthony Bourdain foodie culture in the recent years. And from most articles I’ve read on the matter, Mangalica is needling its little fatty self into the food culture there. And that’s good news for anyone who likes sausages, salamis, roasts, etc., because this pig gives up some of the best in the world.
Now if you are a reader of this blog, you will know that Hungarians are festival-crazed. They will festivalize anything and everything, from a pig to a grape seed. Magyars love to get out, walk around, take in a little grill smoke, eat some kolbasz, drink some pálinka and wine, and genuinely enjoy the festival day.
On the day that I went to the festival, which was the first warm and sunny day for a month, I truly believe that every single person in Budapest was trying to cram themselves into Vajdahunyad Castle is in Budapest’s City Park. It was absolute madness, which is why I didn’t any pictures except for the area where people were eating in the eerily quiet pose that is the pork haze.
Vajdahunyad Castle is an interesting structure in itself, and I went back this weekend to get some pictures without the festival crowd. More on this Transylvanian-inspired, once-cardboard structure tomorrow.