There are some stories that are so vital, so momentous, so crucial in forming a town’s legacy, that they demand telling and retelling– the shouting from rooftops– the clamoring of newsies at the ports and tram stops– the etching down of details so as they are never to be forgotten.
This is not one of those stories.
It is, however, one of the bigger news stories of late. A story to rise above the local black and whites with news of Europe’s potential double-dip recession and Hungary’s Swat teams confiscating Brat Pitt’s prop guns for World War Z.
Drum roll…Kentucky Fried Chicken has finally made its way down to SE Hungary, which is sort of a big deal, but not quite the harbinger of the dawn of Szeged’s Golden Era, as you might think was the case from reading local news reports and various frenzied social media postings.
Still, when the new mall opened last week, we decided to go and see just how Colonel-crazy people here would get.
On Thursday evening at about 8:30 p.m, there must have been 1,000 people in the food court. Every tray was scattered with little chicken bones, and each line was still 10-people deep. Would I be exaggerating to say that half of the city was in the new mall’s food court? Maybe. But I bet almost that many visited throughout the week. I would say the crowd was similar to the one with people waiting for a burned coffee from the new Starbucks in Budapest last year (now there are FOUR in the city!)
I’m sure someone on some other blog will write a scathing social critique about American fast-food globalization, how we export all of our worst qualities, how it does this and that to economic zones x through x. But the truth is that no one in this little European town was complaining. They give free refills on soda, for God’s sake, which is just about as close to a miracle as you can get in Hungary.
It was not with any journalistic intention that we ordered something as well, and I felt a little guilty pride for America’s first Colonel of chicken. I suppose the spicy wings, which are pretty damn good no matter where in the world you order them, taste a little extra special when you’ve been away from home for so long. So thank you, Harland. Love, Budajest.