What a weekend! I just returned from the wonderful little town of Kalocsa. I was there to 1) visit my wonderful friend, Franny (thanks SO much for hostessing!!! And Jon, thanks for your culinary skills this morning!) and 2) hit up the Paprika Festival that was there for the weekend. About 6 of us CETP Teachers turned up for the festivities, and boy, did we have a good time. When you paid for your ticket, you were given an empty bowl and about 4 pieces of bread. Then it was your turn to go paruse around the stalls and pick out what paprika-infested goulash you wanted to try. Here was the twist...most stalls had a lot of alcohol to hand out as well. It only took us a few minutes to learn that the people at these stalls were quite excited to give out some free booze to the Americans roaming through. When I say "booze", by the way, I don't just mean a nice glass of wine or a beer. The drink Hungarians are most famous for is called "palinka". It is basically a brandy that comes in many different flavors, and it is strong...no, I mean STRONG. It's about 60-70 proof. I've been cautioned in the past to have no more than 2 shots of it on any given day. I won't tell you the ACTUAL number of shots that I had in the course of Saturday, but I can tell you that I can just barely count it on my two hands. I mostly drank that much out of the interest of trying the many kinds they had at these stands...I even tried paprika-flavored Palinka!!! Beleive me, it's better than it sounds. By about 4 o'clock we were all feeling pretty dang good and so we decided we'd go to dinner. The stories developed out of the rest of the evening deserve personal renditions, so ask me later...BUT my favorite part was closing out the restaurant past midnight as we sat at our table with the owner and talked and talked (in Hungarian...or rather, I listened to Eliza and the waiter talk in Hungarian as I tried my best to learn and understand). He kept putting on vinyls of beautiful opera music and to express how he felt about every song he would pull a kleenex out of his pocket and wipe invisible tears...then he'd proceed to wave his hands as if he was leading the song. Oh, and he poured us a shot of palinka about every 15 minutes or so...needless to say, I'm "palinka'ed out" for the time being!