If you are spending a week in Budapest for dentistry – which we were – there are some basics you need.
And the means to create tasty adult baby food is one of them.
That means trips to the Spar supermarket in the nearby shopping mall called Mammut.
In it, you can get a Thai massage, shop in H&M or indeed in Marks and Spencers, buy and apartment or a pet bird, and buy a potato peeler and masher – necessary for the obvious reasons, and not supplied in the apartment despite the fact it is rented almost exclusively to those coming on dentistry missions.
I am sure there are quiet times in Spar when you can waltz through the checkout but I don’t manage to hit on any.
So, I queued up with everyone else, hoping that my grasp of the currency would mean that I didn’t brandish the equivalent of a £20 note for some milk and potatoes – and that I would get change that was in notes rather than the completely incomprehensible coins which I can only distinguish one from another with my glasses on and in a good light.
( A very nice young woman at the bakery stall in the market had kindly taken all my coins and given me the note equivalents the day before – it made me absurdly grateful.)
One day, there was a young Goth on the Spar till. She had white eyelashes and very white makeup and some rather painful looking tattoos on the back of her hands.
She dealt with the man who seemed to be discussing at length some issue around his store card points – though he could have been talking about the national debt for all I knew.
Then there was a woman who seemed to have bought the complete frozen fish stock of the place and wanted each item put in a plastic bag before she would move on.
And then it was my turn. I smiled and packed my rucksack as quickly as I could – despite, or maybe because of, the long queues the till women are ruthless at getting everything processed quickly.
Then she said something to me and I was lost. ‘Sorry, mm, sorry,” I said.
‘Oh,’ the nice Goth girl said, ‘ I was just asking if you wanted a voucher but don’t worry, it probably won’t be of any use to you. Are you here on holiday or for dentistry? Have a very nice stay in Budapest and have a good day, thank you for shopping Spar.’