Monday, 10 June 2013


Szalai Cukrászda

Mári Hári loved the opportunity for eating out – and ice-cream.

I think that the first of many, many times that I ate out with her was in May 1984 when she took me and my small investigatory party to the Szalai Cukrászda at Balassi Bálint u. 5. She had taken us on a first-time-visitors' tour of the sights of Budapest and after showing the outside of the Parliament House she walked us gleefully a few yards up Balassi Bálint utca to what was then a shabby little café at no 5.

This, she proudly announced, had been András Pető's favourite cukrászda (cake and coffee shop). She did not add that he lived just a couple of blocks down the street (we hadn't asked), nor that she herself lived just the other side of the Parliament House, in Munich Ferenc (now Nádor) u. They had often eaten ice cream at the Szalai Cukrászda together.

'It is the dynasty,' she explained – meaning that the shop had been passed down through a family. 'It is the best ice-cream in Budapest'. It was certainly very good. What flavour would I like, she asked. It was impossible to chose just one. 'Mixed,' I replied.

'Mixed like this?' Vigorously, with two hands, she mimed bringing dispersed things together into one place. 'Or mixed like this?' With a finger, she just as vigorously, she mimed stirring. I chose the former, and a private joke was born. Many time in later years we had cause to ask each other 'Mixed like this – or mixed like this?'

In later years still

Now in 2013 I see that the Szalai Cukrászda and the Szalai family are still there, everything bigger and smarter nowadays, with their own website and facebook page:

The dynasty continues*, and independent on-line reviews confirm the continuing validity of AP's and MH's good taste.

Also in 2013 'Mixed like this – or mixed like this?' seems just as valid a distinction to make when considering some of the questions around Conductive Education.

Flood alert

The Conductor blog reminds that the current Danube floods are lapping close to András Pető's old flat:

I do hope that the waters spare this ground-floor café.

A memento of Mária and the no 2 tram

Sutton, A. (2010) Hári, Nietsche, Kant, Sinatra. Memento mori – memento vitae, Conductive World, 6 October

I see that to date that this posting has attracted 211 visits.

*     Egyéb információ
Az első üzletet az alapító Szalai István cukrász mester nyitotta 1917. december 17-én Budapesten, az akkori V. Lipót krt. 7. sz. alatt, ma Szt. István krt. 7. (a jelenlegi Európa Kávéház).
Az üzlet szépen fejlődött, túlélte a II. világháborút és működött egészen 1949-ig, az államosításig. Ekkor egyik napról a másikra kitették a saját üzletéből. Mint ún. "osztályidegen elem" nem tudott a szakmában elhelyezkedni ezért volt lakatos segédmunkás, élelmiszerbolti eladó stb.

Az 1953-ban bekövetkezett politikai enyhüléssel megnyílt a lehetőség, hogy újra üzletet nyithasson. Természetesen nem kapta vissza a régit, hanem az V. kerületi Balassi Bálint utcában nyitott újra egy kicsi helyiségben egy új cukrászdát igen nehéz körülmények között.

1968-ig - nyugdíjba vonulásáig - dolgozott majd átadta fiának id. Szalai Györgynek aki 1990-ig vezette az üzletet. Nyugdíjba vonulása óta fia ifj. Szalai György vezeti az üzletet és unokája Szalai Bence is - immár cukrászként - a cukrászdában dolgozik.
In English, something like this –
The first business of the founder, pastry chef Istvan Szalai, opened on 17 December 1917, in Budapest District V, in the then Leopold u., today's St. István krt. 7 (the current Európa Kávéház).
The business prospered, survived the Second World War and operated until nationalization in 1949, Then with no notice he was kicked out of his own business. As a so-called 'declassed element' he could not find a job his profession so he became a locksmith's labourer, a grocery assistant etc.
The political thaw in 1953 opened the way to starting to one's business again. He was not of course given back to the old one but opened up again with a new pastry shop, in a small room in very difficult circumstances, in Balassi Bálint utca in the V. District.
In 1968 – retirement – and he handed over to his son George Szalai who already worked there and ran the business until 1990. Since his retirement his son George Szalai Junior runs the business and grandson Szalai Bence is now a pastry chef working in the pastry shop.
Mária was right about this too , a dynasty indeed.

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